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Title: A poet's self-observation : Robert Browning's poems in propria persona
Author: Martens, Britta
ISNI:       0000 0001 3619 8475
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2002
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Robert Browning's poems in propria persona are usually considered as giving access to his poetics and private self. The contention of this thesis is that many of these poems do not seriously disclose the poet's personality but partially subvert the reliability of their speaker. Three hypotheses are posited. Firstly, as in the dramatic monologue, there is a distance between the implied author and the speaker, which allows the reader more critically to observe how the speaker 'Browning' conceptualises his self and his world. To analyse this differentiation, the thesis draws on a critical approach which combines Antony Easthope's distinction of enounced and enunciation and Niklas Luhmann's Systems Theory of second order observation. Secondly, Browning's self-portrayal is shown often to be the opportunity for a critical scrutiny of the way the public perceives him and evaluates poetry in general. The poems thus incite the reader to an observation of his own aesthetic criteria which parallels the poet's reflections on the poetic medium. Thirdly, discussing poetics within the literary text is seen to be Browning's contribution to the self-generating autonomy of the modern art system as Luhmann defines it. The poems which undermine the statements of the speaker are related to Romantic Irony, which is a prime indicator of the transition to a modern concept of literature. The thesis undertakes critical readings of those poems in propria persona which focus on Browning's identity as a poet with an emphasis on the various techniques he employs in presenting himself. Chapters cover his self-definition in relation to the self-expressive poetry of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, poems in which he presents himself as the object of observation by others, poems responding directly to his critics, his self-presentation as the narrator in the narrative poems, and his dialectical self-definition in relation to other poets or poetic concepts. The poems emerge as documents of Browning's hesitant transition towards a modern concept of poetry as independent of extra-literary functions and of the poet's personality.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Self-portrayal