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Robert Browning


While his detractors found his verse to be deliberately obscure, Robert Browning resisted such charges and went on to become one of the most critically acclaimed and popular English poets of the nineteenth century. Known for his imaginative originality and dramatic power, Browning's enduring voice is evidenced in such works as "My Last Duchess," "Fra Lippo Lippi," "Child Roland to the Dark Tower Came," "Andrea del Sarto," and "Caliban upon Setebos." This volume of essays featuring commentary from Browning's ...

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While his detractors found his verse to be deliberately obscure, Robert Browning resisted such charges and went on to become one of the most critically acclaimed and popular English poets of the nineteenth century. Known for his imaginative originality and dramatic power, Browning's enduring voice is evidenced in such works as "My Last Duchess," "Fra Lippo Lippi," "Child Roland to the Dark Tower Came," "Andrea del Sarto," and "Caliban upon Setebos." This volume of essays featuring commentary from Browning's contemporaries and later critics also includes a chronology, an index, and an introduction from literary critic Harold Bloom.

Bloom's Classic Critical Views presents a selection of the most important enduring literary criticism on the authors most commonly read in high school and college classes today. The series attempts to place these great authors in the context of their time and to provide criticism that has proved over the years to be the most valuable to readers and writers. Selections range from reviews in popular magazines, which demonstrate how a work was received in its own era, to profound essays by some of the strongest critics in the British and American traditions. In addition, each volume contains contributions by a contemporary expert who introduces the most important critical selections, putting them in context and suggesting how they might be used by a student writer to influence his or her own writing.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 10 Up-In each of these volumes, five poems are represented in critical essays by literary analysts both past and contemporary. Robert Browning highlights "My Last Duchess," "Fra Lippo Lippi," "Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came," "Andrea del Sarto," and "Caliban Upon Setebos." Sylvia Plath features "The Colossus," "The Arrival of the Bee Box," "Daddy," "Ariel," and "Lady Lazarus." The main texts are prefaced by brief but informative biographies of the poets and conclude with bibliographies of works by and about them as well as indexes of important themes and ideas from the poems. Each volume is divided into sections, one for each poem, and each section begins with Bloom's thematic analysis of the work. This information, given in a straightforward style, will be helpful to students. Because the essays are written by scholars, however, the language is often dense and hard to grasp for all but the most advanced high-school literature students. With their academic approach and language, these research and study guides would be best used in school libraries that support intensive literary research on the precollege or Advanced Placement level.-Toni D. Moore, Simon Kenton High School, Independence, KY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781604134292
  • Publisher: Facts on File, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/1/2009
  • Series: Bloom's Classic Critical Views Series
  • Pages: 228
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Harold Bloom
Harold Bloom
One of our most popular, respected, and controversial literary critics, Yale University professor Harold Bloom’s books – about, variously, Shakespeare, the Bible, and the classic literature – are as erudite as they are accessible.


"Authentic literature doesn't divide us," the scholar and literary critic Harold Bloom once said. "It addresses itself to the solitary individual or consciousness." Revered and sometimes reviled as a champion of the Western canon, Bloom insists on the importance of reading authors such as Shakespeare, Milton, and Chaucer -- not because they transmit certain approved cultural values, but because they transcend the limits of culture, and thus enlarge rather than constrict our sense of what it means to be human. As Bloom explained in an interview, "Shakespeare is the true multicultural author. He exists in all languages. He is put on the stage everywhere. Everyone feels that they are represented by him on the stage."

Bloom began his career by tackling the formidable legacy of T.S. Eliot, who had dismissed the English Romantic poets as undisciplined nature-worshippers. Bloom construed the Romantic poets' visions of immortality as rebellions against nature, and argued that an essentially Romantic imagination was still at work in the best modernist poets.

Having restored the Romantics to critical respectability, Bloom advanced a more general theory of poetry. His now-famous The Anxiety of Influence argued that any strong poem is a creative "misreading" of the poet's predecessor. The book raised, as the poet John Hollander wrote, "profound questions about... how the prior visions of other poems are, for a true poet, as powerful as his own dreams and as formative as his domestic childhood." In addition to developing this theory, Bloom wrote several books on sacred texts. In The Book of J, he suggested that some of the oldest parts of the Bible were written by a woman.

The Book of J was a bestseller, but it was the 1994 publication of The Western Canon that made the critic-scholar a household name. In it, Bloom decried what he called the "School of Resentment" and the use of political correctness as a basis for judging works of literature. His defense of the threatened canon formed, according to The New York Times, a "passionate demonstration of why some writers have triumphantly escaped the oblivion in which time buries almost all human effort."

Bloom placed Shakespeare along with Dante at the center of the Western canon, and he made another defense of Shakespeare's centrality with Shakespeare: The Invention of the Human, an illuminating study of Shakespeare's plays. How to Read and Why (2000) revisited Shakespeare and other writers in the Bloom pantheon, and described the act of reading as both a spiritual exercise and an aesthetic pleasure.

Recently, Bloom took up another controversial stance when he attacked Harry Potter in an essay for The Wall Street Journal. His 2001 book Stories and Poems for Extremely Intelligent Children of All Ages advanced an alternative to contemporary children's lit, with a collection of classic works of literature "worthy of rereading" by people of all ages.

The poet and editor David Lehman said that "while there are some critics who are known for a certain subtlety and a certain judiciousness, there are other critics... who radiate ferocious passion." Harold Bloom is a ferociously passionate reader for whom literary criticism is, as he puts it, "the art of making what is implicit in the text as finely explicit as possible."

Good To Know

Bloom earned his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1955 and was hired as a Yale faculty member that same year. In 1965, at the age of 35, he became one of the youngest scholars in Yale history to be appointed full professor in the department of English. He is now Sterling Professor of Humanities at Yale and Berg Visiting Professor of English at New York University.

Though some conservative commentators embraced Bloom's canon as a return to traditional moral values, Bloom, who once styled himself "a Truman Democrat," dismisses attempts by both left- and right-wingers to politicize literature. "To read in the service of any ideology is not, in my judgment, to read at all," he told a New York Times interviewer.

His great affinity for Shakespeare has put Bloom in the unlikely position of stage actor on occasion; he has played his "literary hero," port-loving raconteur Sir John Falstaff, in three productions.

Bloom is married to Jeanne, a retired school psychologist whom he met while a junior faculty member at Yale in the 1950s. They have two sons.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Harold Irving Bloom (full name)
    2. Hometown:
      New York, New York and New Haven, Connecticut
    1. Date of Birth:
      July 11, 1930
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Cornell University, 1951; Ph.D., Yale University, 1955

Table of Contents

Series Introduction ix

Introduction Harold Bloom xi

Biography xiii

Personal 3

William Charles Macready (1835) 7

George Stillman Hillard (1853) 7

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1856) 8

Benjamin Jowett (1865) 9

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1885) 10

Thomas Adolphus Trollope (1888) 10

George William Curtis "Editor's Easy Chair" (1890) 11

James Fotheringham (1898) 12

Frederic Harrison "Personal Reminiscences" (1901) 14

William James Stillman (1901) 15

General 17

Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1844) 20

Walter Savage Landor "To Robert Browning" (1845) 20

Margaret Fuller "Browning's Poems" (1846) 21

George Eliot (1856) 22

John Ruskin (1856) 24

James Thomson "The Poems of William Blake" (1864) 25

Edward FitzGerald (1869) 26

Edward Clarence Stedman (1875) 27

Algernon Charles Swinburne (1875) 31

Harriet Martineau (1877) 33

Justin McCarthy (1879-80) 34

Unsigned (1886) 37

Edward Dowden (1887) 39

Edgar Fawcett (1888) 41

William John Alexander (1889) 43

Andrew Lang "Introductory: Of Modern English Poetry" (1889) 44

John T. Nettleship "Robert Browning" (1889) 46

Algernon Charles Swinburne "A Sequence of Sonnets on the Death of Robert Browning: I" (1890) 48

Aubrey De Vere "Robert Browning" (1890) 49

Annie E. Ireland "Browning's Types of Womanhood" (1890) 50

John Addington Symonds "A Comparison of Elizabethan with Victorian Poetry" (1890) 51

Barrett Wendell (1891) 51

Oscar Wilde (1891) 52

Arthur Christopher Benson "The Poetry of Edmund Gosse" (1894) 55

George Saintsbury (1896) 56

Augustine Birrell "Robert Browning" (1897) 60

Thomas Wentworth Higginson "The Biography of Browning's Fame" (1897) 61

Francis Thompson "AcademyPortraits: XXVI. Robert Browning" (1897) 62

Arthur Waugh (1899) 64

Works 67

Paracelsus 69

W.J. Fox (1835) 69

Leigh Hunt (1835) 69

John Forster "Evidences of a New Genius for Dramatic Poetry" (1836) 70

R.H. Horne "Robert Browning and J.W. Marston" (1844) 71

Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1844) 73

Harriet Waters Preston "Robert and Elizabeth Browning" (1899) 73

Strafford 74

William Charles Macready (1837) 74

Herman Merivale "Browning's Strafford; A Tragedy" (1837) 75

Charlotte Porter "Dramatic Motive in Browning's Strafford" (1893) 76

Sordello 78

Richard Hengist Horne "Robert Browning's Poems" (1842) 78

Edward Dowden "Mr. Browning's Sordello" (1867) 80

Pippa Passes 86

Unsigned (1841) 86

A Blot in the 'Scutcheon 90

Charles Dickens (1842) 90

Unsigned (1843) 91

John Forster (1843) 93

Helena Faucit Martin "On Some of Shakespeare's Female Characters: III. Desdemona" (1881) 94

Thomas R. Lounsbury "A Philistine View" (1899) 95

Men and Women 96

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1855) 96

John Greenleaf Whittier (1855) 97

Margaret Oliphant "Modern Light Literature-Poetry" (1856) 97

Andrew Lang "Adventures among Books" (1891) 98

The Ring and the Book 98

Richelieu (1868) 98

Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1868) 103

John Morley "On The Ring and the Book" (1869) 104

Robert Buchanan (1869) 105

Gerard Manley Hopkins (1881) 107

Alexandra Orr (1885) 108

William Dean Howells "Certain Preferences and Experiences" (1895) 109

The Inn Album 110

Henry James "Browning's Inn Album" (1876) 110

A.C. Bradley "Mr. Browning's Inn Album" (1876) 112

George Henry Lewes (1847) 113

Thomas Powell (1849) 116

Walter Bagehot "Wordsworth, Tennyson, and Browning; or, Pure, Ornate, and Grotesque Art in English Poetry" (1864) 120

Alfred Austin "The Poetry of the Period" (1869) 127

Richard Henry Stoddard (1871) 143

Arthur Galton "Mr. Browning" (1885) 144

Andrew Lang "Esoteric Browningism" (1888) 149

Unsigned (1890) 151

Unsigned (1890) 155

Henry James "Browning in Westminster Abbey" (1890) 156

George Edward Woodberry "On Browning's Death" (1890) 161

George Santayana "The Poetry of Barbarism: III. Robert Browning" (1900) 172

G.K. Chesterton (1903) 188

Chronology 206

Index 208

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