« AnteriorContinuar »
IN TWO VOLUMES
THE MACMILLAN CO.
[All rights reserved ]
HIS edition of Mr. Browning's poems and plays makes no pretence to be critical. One of the most useful of the Shakespearian commentators, Mr. Theobald, has observed that the science of criticism, so far as it affects an editor, is reduced to three classes: "The emendation of corrupt passages, the explanation of obscure and difficult ones, and an inquiry into the beauties and defects of composition." Happily there are no corrupt passages in Browning, but undoubtedly there are some obscure and difficult ones, although the reader will often be surprised to find how frequently obscurity and difficulty will be dissipated and removed by a careful study of the context. So, too, Browning has his beauties and defects of composition; but neither his beauties or defects of composition, nor the obscurities and difficulties of particular passages, are here discussed or explained. All that has been done is to prefix (within square brackets) to some of the plays and poems a few lines explanatory of the characters and events depicted and described, and to explain in the margin of the volumes the meaning of such words as might, if left unexplained, momentarily arrest the understanding of the reader. That some easy words have been explained and some hard ones left alone is more than likely, since, on such a subject, no standard exists either of information or of ignorance. Mr. F. G. Kenyon has been kind enough to make the notes for "The Ring and the Book," but for the rest the Editor alone is responsible.
The edition is a complete one, containing all Mr. Browning's regularly published plays and poems, from Pauline (1833) to Asolando (1889). In the arrangement of the contents a chronological order has as far as possible been observed; but as Mr. Browning himself rearranged some of his smaller poems regardless of their dates of publication, his publishers have not felt themselves at liberty in these cases to adhere to chronology. In all the poems the poet's latest readings have been followed.