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Robert Browning's Poetry (Norton Critical Editions) [Paperback]

Robert Browning , James F. Loucks , Andrew M. Stauffer
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 2, 2007 0393926001 978-0393926002 2nd

The Second Edition of this substantial collection of Browning’s poetry again reprints the texts of the seventeen-volume “Fourth and complete edition” (Smith, Elder), of which all but the final volume were approved by Browning before his death.

The poems are ordered chronologically according to their first appearance in book form. Thirteen new poems are included in this edition, with Pauline now printed in its entirety. Annotations have been revised throughout to clarify Browning’s references and vocabulary.

“Criticism” retains the important contextual perspective of the First Edition. The twenty-three essays, nine of which are new, are divided into three sections: “Victorian Views,” “Modern Essays in Criticism,” and “Interpretations of Poems.”

A Chronology, Selected Bibliography, and Index of Titles and First Lines are also included.

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Robert Browning (1812-1889) was one of the foremost Victorian poets and playwrights.

James F. Loucks is Associate Professor of English at The Ohio State University, Newark. He received his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. He is the co-author (with Richard D. Altick) of Browning’s Roman Murder Story: A Reading of “The Ring and the Book” and is the author of articles on Victorian and twentieth-century literature.

Andrew M. Stauffer is Associate Professor of English at Boston University. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. He is the author of Anger, Revolution, and Romanticism, and has published many articles on Romantic and Victorian poetry.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 2nd edition (January 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393926001
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393926002
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #320,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good introductory anthology. December 26, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is as good as you'll find for a brief one-volume, in-print collection of some major Browning poems. Browning, as Pound himself made clear, is the forerunner of "modernism," his poetry capable of outdoing Pound's in difficulty because of the labyrinthian syntax in pursuit of meanings which for their originator, at least, were clear. Even "Sordello," the ultimate poem about the ultimately self-conscious troubador, was too much for Ezra, who couldn't get on with his Cantos until distancing himself from its difficulties.

With all due respects to the other reviewer, Browning is a "Christian" poet but no orthodox one. He believes in a dynamic Incarnation repeating itself throughout creation and in every moment of existence. Grace and redemption, however, are relatively foreign if not alien concepts to him--one of the reasons it's quite accurate to think of him as the most "optimistic" poet, if not author, in all English literature. Life is purposeful becoming: there's no need to mourn or forgive the past.

Also, any reader may read, or teacher teach, "My Last Duchess" without guilt. Though certain readers might find it easy or convenient to reduce the Duke to a two-dimensional character, to do so is to produce a willful or ignorant misrepresentation of him. His rhetoric alone is dazzling, complex, as obfuscating as it is revealing of his character. Moreover, the poem also has the characters of the Duchess and Envoy to evaluate, both of whom become complex in proportion to the maturity and perceptiveness of an ever-present 4th character--you, the reader (or "implied reader," as the Reader-Response crowd would designate him).

Lesson: Don't mess with Browning unless you're willing to become an active participant in the poetry which, admittedly, can involve considerable patience, time and work. Even Pound is easier, if only because he allows a reader more "wiggle room."
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Browning as never before July 10, 2007
"Grow old along with me!/ The best is yet to be ...." Great line--quoted recently and beautifully by Christopher Plummer in the popular movie "Must Love Dogs," but did you know it comes from the poem "Rabbi Ben Ezra"? This book discovers Browning as never before. Not only will you find the chestnuts you've heard over the years, but you will read them in context. Not only will you see the breadth and depth of this poet's work, but also find extraordinary essays on his technique and discussions of specific poems by Carlyle and James and Hopkins sitting right next to essays by Harold Bloom and other present-day luminaries. And to boot, you won't be overwhelmed by footnotes, but when you find one, it will be in plain English. This is a book to treasure.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent February 19, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This Norton edition of Robert Brownings lives up to expectation. I find I never go wrong with Norton anthologies. Thanks.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Binding of the Book May 11, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I like the contents of the book just fine. The print is easy to read, and the poems are laid out nicely. But the glued binding of this book is going to go quickly. The first time I opened the book I could feel its flimsiness. Soon, I am sure, I'm going to be left with nothing but chunks of book.

Are there not any books that are still stitched together?

Christiana Mollin
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16 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good reference! August 27, 2003
I am a fan of Robert Browning, and believe him to be one of the best Christian poets from the Victorian age.
In the introductions to poems that I've read, the editor James Loucks, perhaps to be "objective," fails to even make the slightest mention of Browning's Christianity, or how that could have affected the themes of his poems.
In Browning's earlier dramatic monologues such as "My Last Duchess," his characters are wholly villainous or otherwise two-dimensional. They don't have any redemptive qualities about them at all. However, in Browning's mature dramatic monologues, his characters have specks of redemptive qualities, and this makes them real, and even makes the characters human.
In "an Epistle Containing the Strange Medical Experience of Karshish, the Arab Physician," Karshish meets Lazarus shortly before the fall of the Jewish Temple.
Loucks says that "the title refers to an imaginary encounter between an itinerant Arab . . . long after [Lazarus] was raised from the dead by Jesus. Since the conflict experienced by Karshish -- that of positivism opposed to the will to believe -- was shared by many of Browning's contemporaries, the poem has a modern resonance" (127).
He leads the reader to believe that Browning was trying to express and maybe even uplift the belief of unbelief, to praise his 'scientific' contemporaries, yet this is far from the case.
Browning, a Christian, in part shows how the Incarnation, God becoming Man, could strongly twang the beliefs that Karshish has of God -- that the body entraps the soul, and that the soul and body are wholly separate and cannot be mixed.
I will conclude with a quote from this poem where Karshish, in a redemptive moment, briefly opens his eyes to the power of the Incarnation:
The very God!
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