The Criminal Mind of Robert Browning Essays
Sonnet 20 elizabeth barrett browning analysis essay
Nor does Browning deploy totally or always obviously a dramatic mode. Many of the poems in this publication are presented as if in the traditions of expressive lyricism. But the overwhelming effect everywhere is of a poet dedicated to ambiguities—of tone, mood, point of view, image, conclusiveness—and readers are as much made aware of ironies or disjunctions in speakers’ perspectives as invited to share their feelings. As a poet seriously interested in music, Browning’s own poetry in these volumes might be characterized as a sustained exercise in modal ambiguity, where key signatures are unclear and harmonic relationships are shifting and uncertain. Such uncertainties do not make for easy reading, but may seem rather like listening to a fugue by Master Hugues, as it “broadens and thickens / Greatens and deepens and lengthens” (96-97). Readers might well ask Robert Browning, as the organist asks Master Hugues, whether they are always to confront such a world of unresolved complexity:
Robert Browning; essays and thoughts
In November 1855 Robert Browning published 51 new poems under the general title of Men and Women. Browning had high hopes for their success, but if an “event” exists only in its representations—discussion, debate, description, the marks that generate its existence—this publication was at the time a minor moment. The two volumes were hardly noticed, barely debated in public and, apart from a few significant admirers (William Morris, the Rossettis, George Eliot), generally dismissed as yet another in a series of obscure works by the enigmatic Mr. Browning (DeVane 205-11; Ryals 132-33; Kennedy and Hair 274-81). It is only by means of their reception history, their public discussion and analysis in the following decades and century, that their cultural and aesthetic value gradually emerged. Ensuing judgements have subsequently defined this event as a watershed in Browning’s career, as among the best three of his publications, along with Dramatis Personae (1864) and The Ring and the Book (1868-69), and as a major moment therefore in the literary history of nineteenth-century Britain.