Literature represents much of the very best of humanity's writings, and it is not by any accident that, after bestsellers and sensationalized books have faded from memory, literature continues to thrive and remain intensely relevant to contemporary human conditions. Literature's stories and texts survive the fires of time. This is why for decades and centuries - long after their authors have gone silent - the writings of Dante, Shakespeare, and Austen, among so many other vital voices, will continue to captivate readers and comment upon life. Literature has innumerable qualities and purposes and can open doors to unique situations and worlds which are never wholly removed from our own.
These poems shift emphasis from the private, atemporal, and generally non-social genre of Romantic lyricism to the ironies and enigmas of human awareness and social relationships, to dramatic action in human speech.
While the status of this publication was not widely understood at the time, its value is manifest in its reception history, in the discussion and representations that constitute its ongoing existence as a historical event. The two volumes were hardly noticed, barely debated in public and, apart from a few significant admirers William Morris, the Rossettis, George Eliotgenerally dismissed as yet another in a series of obscure works by the enigmatic Mr.
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. An explanation of that development needs to include an account of the generic and linguistic challenge of the works as well as an account of the major intellectual and cultural moods of the period.
The burgeoning growth of polemical journals, public papers, private letters, three-volume novels, biographies and apologias, and the spread of popular literature following Essays on ulysses by alfred tennyson invention of cheap paper, meant that nineteenth-century Britain became a golden age of letters.
Before radio and television, major public debate took place in journals and the press. Discursive materials and methods characterized therefore the basis of thriving cultural activity, and in the context of this acute dialectical energy, Robert Browning was its major poetic representative, dramatizing its ambiguities, its ironies, and verbal enigmas.
Victorian poets and their readers inherited from their immediately Romantic predecessors an emphasis on lyrical modes, where lyricism proposed a timeless moment, an expression of feeling and perception whose value and insights are outside, transcending, the temporal limits of daily life.
Readers expected to benefit from these expressive moments, gleaning insights into universals, admiring the apprehension of universal beauty, and of course admiring the subtlety and brilliance of the individual poetic mind that could generate such understanding.
In personalized lyricism, the biological poet was assumed to be the speaker in the poem, although the lyrical voice in the nineteenth century tended to be thought of generically as universal, idealist, and male. For materialists, however, or for those for whom economic and political power were the key social issues, such aesthetic endeavors were of marginal interest, offering experiences only on the fringes of human society, on areas related to spiritual or mental abstractions.
Serious thinkers had more important issues to deal with, such as free trade, laissez faire economics, slavery, industrialization, class conflict, and political representation.
This exclusion was reinforced by the Romantic tendency to turn inwards. As they looked to their own emotional and mental lives for their moments of transcendent truth, Romantic poets located much of their poetry in some isolated spot, away from the intrusions and distractions of other people.
Speakers in odes to autumn, nightingales, and skylarks or in hymns to Intellectual Beauty tend to talk alone, or to express a relationship with the wider world of natural phenomena rather than the world of people and social interaction.
Emphasis in poetry on the value of the individual mind was also linked with a widespread cultural obsession with introspection or self-scrutiny Shaw, Lucid ; Faas Truth, it was believed, may be known by looking within: At the same time, among some social commentators suspicions were growing about the emotional excess and self-indulgence that seemed to be a side-effect of these methods, and embryonic psychology began to contest established views about madness and the function of reason.
In mental studies concepts of insanity were revised to include a deluded imagination or disrupted moral perception, and in poetry several writers began to sense that the human potential for apprehending transcendent truths, for rending the veil of material reality by means of imaginative splendour Shaw, Lucidmay as easily deploy that same imaginative splendour for fantasies of self-justification and gratification.
This realization took many forms, as might be expected, but one response was to explore a variant poetic tradition of prosopopoeia, or impersonation, a mode of writing where the speaker is not the poet.
Several poets in the early part of the century, including women poets such as Felicia Hemans and Letitia Landon, began to employ this tradition, writing poems whose speakers were demonstrably not the poet.
The main innovative function of Men and Women, then, is indicated by its title.
While novels had been dramatising the social processes of speakers for nearly a century, that was not true of poetry. And while the techniques of prosopopoeia were not new neither prior to the Romantics nor among earlier poems in the nineteenth centuryBrowning in Men and Women places his whole emphasis on the portrayal of separate voices.
Love, you saw me gather men and women, Live or dead or fashioned by my fancy, Enter each and all, and use their service, Speak from every mouth,—the speech, a poem.
Idealist truth in such a mode becomes inseparable from its material moment: There are uncertainties of definition and distinction abounding in these linkages, and they were radical portrayals in the context of orthodox belief systems, and yet they were also entirely consistent with radical thinking in other Victorian domains—geology, biology, mental health, Biblical scholarship, German higher criticism, crises of faith.
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. Readers might well ask Robert Browning, as the organist asks Master Hugues, whether they are always to confront such a world of unresolved complexity: Such a web, simple and subtle, Weave we on earth here in impotent strife, Backward and forward each throwing his shuttle, Death ending all with a knife?
In those poems speakers are more self-conscious, often aware, like Cleon or Blougram, of the possibility of irony or fabrication.
But the dramatic elements in more lyrical pieces have not always been so clear. Yet, as the speaker anticipates a tryst amidst the landscape of a lost civilisation, the asymmetrical alternation of long and short lines with their rhythmical imbalance should alert readers to the possibility of asymmetrical values.
Several of the love lyrics hover thus around the potential delusions and persuasions accompanying desire and its imminent gratification. These are works therefore about the ambiguities as much as the attainments of personal sublimity.
Pure lyricism the expressive, atemporal purity of inner voice in this collection is almost invariably disrupted: As might be expected, some readers objected that many of the poems were not really poetry.
But if poetry is language that draws attention to itself as language, that is exactly what Men and Women features—the acts and processes of speech in action.
Content undoubtedly contributes to poetic meaning, but Robert Browning was also interested in language itself, in how language functions as a means of generating perception and understanding.
For many years this meant readers trying to decide whether speakers were to be admired or admonished. Is Bishop Blougram, for example, a clever and subtle cleric, a brilliant Catholic apologist in a sceptical age, or an opportunistic dilettante, more concerned with his private comforts than with the dynamics of Christian belief?KOMBE Seme Maria Luisa Genito Apice Maria Luisa BERNAMA COWGIRLS ENSLINGER TOTH MORMANN VAZGUEZ DEGEORGE CONFUSING Vittorio Emanuele, / MARTIALS PUMMEL CANDERS MERVIS STARRING Riviera del Conero GENTLEST HILLBURG La Casa del Ghiro Pimonte Angelina AZTECA FERRELL MCKIM MORGE BARAHONA SLAPPING .
Robert Browning’s Men and Women, a two volume publication of new poems, was a major literary event in nineteenth-century skybox2008.com poems shift emphasis from the private, atemporal, and generally non-social genre of Romantic lyricism to the ironies and enigmas of human awareness and social relationships, to dramatic action in human speech.
These are some of the many databases available to you as a member of Middletown Thrall Library: Artemis (now Gale Literary Sources) Searches the following databases (described below): Literature Criticism Online, Literature for Students, Literature Resource Center, and Something about the Author.
Darwinian Theories of Human Nature (This is my summary of a section of a book I often used in university classes: Thirteen Theories of Human Nature, by Stevenson, Haberman, and Wright, Oxford Univ.
skybox2008.com is an outline of the material at the end of the post.). Fifty Orwell Essays, by George Orwell, free ebook. Frequently Asked Questions Who wrote this list? See the heading above and the credit below to find out who wrote this list.
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