Chapter

Dissenting Forms: The Brownings

Kirstie Blair

in Form and Faith in Victorian Poetry and Religion

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199644506
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191741593 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199644506.003.0005
Dissenting Forms: The Brownings

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Chapter 4 focuses on Robert and Elizabeth Barrett Browning, with a particular concentration on two major works of the 1850s, Christmas-Eve and Aurora Leigh. It argues that the dissenting, Congregationalist background of these poets (and their consequent opposition to the Anglican revival of forms) is more evident in their poetry than critics have observed. After locating both poets within dissenting culture, using their letters and early poems, the chapter discusses Christmas-Eve in depth and argue that its varying structures and playful form and content are a deliberate dissenting take on religious poetics. Similarly, EBB’s poetics, particularly after she became interested in Swedenborg in the 1850s, reveal a rejection of what she perceived as the cold formality of the High Church in favour of an understanding of form as organic and natural though infused with the spiritual.

Keywords: Browning; Barrett Browning; EBB; dissent; congregationalism; poetic form; Aurora Leigh

Chapter.  17555 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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