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Literary Criticism  19th Century

Browning's Experiments with Genre

by (author) Donald Hair

University of Toronto Press
Initial publish date
Dec 1972
19th Century, Poetry, English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
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    Publish Date
    Dec 1972
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One of the chief characteristics of nineteenth-century poetics was a tendency to test the conventions and techniques of literary genres by shifting, modifying, and combining various styles and forms. Browning fully exploited these changes, because his interests and purposes as a poet seemed to demand more of the lyric, the dramatic, and the narrative than these kinds had traditionally been able to perform. His fascination was with the development of the individual soul and he was determined to evoke in his readers his own insights into the complexity of human concerns; thus he became a constant experimenter with genre. Browning never felt that any experiment, however unsatisfactory the result, was wasted effort; each direction tried made him better prepared to attempt another.


This book explores the kinds and modes with which he worked and describes the nature of the experiments he made, concentrating on the earlier poetry and in particular on The Ring and the Book. Professor Hair is sensitive to Browning's work, and his criticism is a model of understanding, warm appreciation, and critical good sense.

About the author

Donald S. Hair is a Professor in the Department of English, University of Western Ontario, and author of Tennyson's Language, Domestic and Heroic in Tennyson's Poetry, and Browning's Experiments with Genre.

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Other titles by Donald Hair