LAKSHMI KRISHNAN I hold it probable-- With something changeless at the heart of me To know me by, some nucleus that's myself: Accretions did it wrong? Away with them-- You soon shall see the use of fire! Till when, All that was, is; and must forever be. Nor is it in me to unhate my hates,-- --Count Guido Franceschini1 hen Browning began writing The Ring and the Book in late 1864, his critical reputation was still unsteady. Criticized for his obscurity, dense allusiveness, and supposed lack of lyricism, he was often described as a poet of "weighty sense" who "neglects the form,"2 a supreme analyst and vivisectionist whose psychological insight precluded aesthetic merit. His self-professed interest in "morbid cases of the soul"3 drew accusations that the sordid or repugnant held for him a macabre fascination. To many of his contemporaries, Browning's dramatis personae were not sympathetic characters. Now, of course, with the work of Langbaum and successive critics4 behind us, we realize that the tension between sympathy and moral judgment is part of the aesthetic of the dramatic monologue, a dialectic that Browning exploited to the fullest. For Victorian readers, however, the unsympathetic--indeed, grotesque--nature of Browning's speakers proved,
Victorian Poetry – West Virginia University Press
Published: Jul 20, 2014
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