The Structure of the Revised Men and Women
In 1862, in response to what one reviewer was to call ‘a sufficient demand on the part of the public’, Browning produced a collected edition of his poems to date, the first since 1849. Several important changes of editorial policy become apparent when the two collections are compared. In many ways, 1849 was the more radical: its exclusion of Sordello announces Browning’s intention of propitiating an unsympathetic public, and the same conciliatory spirit directs his revision of other poems. With Paracelsus and Pippa Passes in particular, he went to the length of interpolating substantial clarificatory passages. 1863 openly repudiates this willingness to revise. In reissuing Sordello, Browning noted that his attempts to revise it in the spirit of 1849 had proved unsuccessful, if not misguided: ‘after all, I imagined another thing at first, and therefore leave as I fmd it’. And other poems too were left as found, even, in many instances, reverting to a pre–1849 reading.
KeywordsAesthetic Theory Human Word Renaissance Painter Short Poem Conciliatory Spirit
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