The Poetical Works of Robert Browning
Henry James described Browning's extended dramatic poem The Ring and the Book, over 20,000 lines in length, as a great living thing, a proportioned ... Show synopsis Henry James described Browning's extended dramatic poem The Ring and the Book, over 20,000 lines in length, as a great living thing, a proportioned monstrous magnificence. The story was developed from some old legal documents discovered by Browning concerning an actual murder which took place in Rome in 1698, and its writing was his major preoccupation in the 1860s, the early years of his widowerhood in London. This volume gives us the first third of the poems, Books I to IV. The introduction draws on unpublished letters, journals, and working papers to illuminate how the poem was conceived and researched, the range of people the poet consulted, and the five-year period of composition. The poem's complex publishing history is disentangled in the text part of the introduction, including a discussion of the corrections and revisions Browning made on sheets from volumes I, III, and IV of the second edition, which he later forgot and which never appeared in print. Appendix E gives these important variants in full.