The Poetical Works of Robert Browning. Volume XV: Parleyings with Certain People of Importance in Their Day and Asolando.
The Poetical Works of Robert Browning. Volume XV: Parleyings with Certain People of Importance in Their Day and Asolando. Stefan Hawlin and Michael Meredith, editors. Clarendon Press, Oxford. [pounds sterling]110.00. xix + 514 pages. ISBN 978-0-190812351-4. This volume, despite its numbering, is the ninth in the definitive edition of Browning's verse. The editors argue that Browning's later work is not just 'interesting in itself" but essential for understanding his early composition. The verses show Browning to be more religious, more of a Liberal and more of a late Victorian imperialist than has hitherto been thought. The volume is roughly divided into two: Parleying ... is edited by Mr Hawlin and Asolando, by Mr Meredith. As Stefan Hawlin writes. Parlexings ... was in effect a 'Liberal-Protestant progressivist tract for the times', written with the Queen's 1887 Jubilee in mind and drawing on his own Congregational upbringing. Asolando, published on the day Browning died in 1889, is made up of thirty miscellaneous poems. This fact, argues Michael Meredith, has led critics to undervalue the verses because they overlook 'the order and shape' of the whole. The editing is of the same high standard one has come to expect of this whole edition and the introductions will make readers look again, and perhaps more carefully, at these poems. (P.P.F.)