Read Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning Kerry McSweeney Online


Aurora Leigh, now available in the first critically edited and fully annotated edition for almost a century, is the foremost example of the mid-nineteenth century poem of contemporary life. It is an amazing verse novel which provides a panoramic view of the early Victorian age in London. The dominant presence in the work however, is the narrator Aurora Leigh, as she develoAurora Leigh, now available in the first critically edited and fully annotated edition for almost a century, is the foremost example of the mid-nineteenth century poem of contemporary life. It is an amazing verse novel which provides a panoramic view of the early Victorian age in London. The dominant presence in the work however, is the narrator Aurora Leigh, as she develops her ideas on art, love, God, the "Woman Question," and society. About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more....

Title : Aurora Leigh
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780199552337
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 361 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Aurora Leigh Reviews

  • Bookdragon Sean
    2019-04-20 08:57

    What do you say to someone who tells you to stop being yourself? You love him and you want to marry him, and he comes out with that. He tells you to stop writing poetry; it’s something women can’t do well apparently, and he tells you to give it up. Essentially, he tells you to stop being you. Here is Romney’s ignorant argument to his Aurora:“We get no Christ from you- and verily We shall not get a poet in my mind."Aurora does the right thing, she says the right things, and she walks away. She doesn’t sacrifice herself, her individuality, to become some foolish man’s helpmate: his restricted Victorian wife. She remains Aurora.She was raised to believe in respectability and womanhood. Her aunt made her read guides on manners and appropriate behaviours a woman should manifest. Aurora didn’t have the time for such crap. She wasn’t going to become a caged bird or someone’s doll. She liberated her own mind through books on history, politics and art. It is only when Aurora discovers her father’s library, with its extensive range of ideas and knowledge that she feels her world and mind opening up. Books liberate her. She became intelligent enough to understand that she shouldn’t be led by anyone else whether male or female. She became her own person in body and soul. And this hugely creative narrative poem depicts her journey through life as she comes to understand the true meaning of love. Her autonomy drives the poem forward; she wishes to be able to express her own thoughts and emotions in her art form. Similar to Jane’s voice inJane Eyre, Aurora’s poetry becomes a means of liberating herself and expressing her emotions and desires.Eventually, her foolish lover realises the errors of his ways. He reads some of Aurora’s poetry, and says:You have the stars, ‘he murmured- ‘it is well:Be like them! Shine, Aurora, on my darkThus everything ends in happiness, but not after Barret Browning has made her stance very clear on the Victorian Woman question. Healthy marriage is perfectly achievable if it occurs through mutual respect and autonomy. One partner should not dominate the other’s personality and individualism. The wife is not a simple creature to be shaped in accordance with her husband’s will: she is not his helpmate. She is an individual and this should be retained for a healthy marriage. It seems like an obvious statement, but the Victorians were idiots when it came to marriage. She comes to regret her earlier refusal of Romney; however, it can be argued that their initial marriage would have been a failure because Aurora would not have had her art. Aurora not becoming a possession of Romney is Browning’s answer to the woman question and a love filled marriage. Later, after there is an acceptance of the place of each in a relationship, Romney recognises Aurora’s art and individualism, a healthy marriage is possible. This marriage, this love, becomes an artistic muse for Aurora, oneness with God is achieved. This poem is very rich in sentimentality and instructive purpose. Oscar Wilde would have hated it. But that’s beside the point. There is a strong message in here, and despite its overt nature, it is an important one. Also of note, this can easily be read alongside the fantasticJane Eyre. There are many crossovers in theme and message. I’d recommend it to lovers of Charlotte Bronte’s masterpiece. >Postscript- This is the longest poem I’ve ever read. At 300+ pages, I can easily say it was as enjoyable as any novel. And this quote was my favourite. Can you tell why? “Books, books, books!I had found the secret of a garret roomPiled high with cases in my father’s name;Piled high, packed large,--where, creeping in and outAmong the giant fossils of my past,Like some small nimble mouse between the ribsOf a mastodon, I nibbled here and thereAt this or that box, pulling through the gap,In heats of terror, haste, victorious joy,The first book first. And how I felt it beatUnder my pillow, in the morning’s dark,An hour before the sun would let me read!My books!”

  • Ellis
    2019-04-30 08:49

    Actual rating is closer to 3.75 stars.Ah, Aurora Leigh, how do I review thee?Shall I recount the ways in which you made me cry,the nights of frustration, the days of recluse,since I had a dissertation to finish,and you were just so damn unreadable?Aurora Leigh is a weird book.With that, I reworked my basic sigh of desperation while I was writing into the opening line of my dissertation, because this book is just fucking weird, man.I regularly doubted if I should keep that introduction, but my advisor even encouraged us to write a "spoof abstract" as the summary, so I wasn't exactly worried - academically speaking.Truth is, Aurora Leigh is an ambitious work. Barrett Browning knew this. She wanted it to be regarded as her literary masterpiece. Theoretically, it comes very close to unadulterated genius. The main problem is the form in which it is written. It's quite unreadable because it rests on so many literary traditions and devices that it doesn't always make for a coherent story. It also doesn't help that a lot of its material entertains a dialogue with behemoths such as Wordsworth and Milton, so there's a rather extensive field of obscure references.While there is discussion on this part, it's generally acknowledged that Aurora Leigh is an "epic novel-poem". It follows the stylistic rules of the classic epic, but is written in the blank verse of the English epic, while it has a complex plot and a lot of pathos. If you're purely reading for story, this will prove to be a tiresome and tedious read.Okay, so this novel isn't the most readable in its genre. No biggie, right? Well, the different genre influences and the resulting hybrid form are part of the point Elizabeth Barrett Browning tries to make. At its core, Aurora Leigh is the story of Aurora, an orphaned female artist who tries to make her way in a male-dominated world. She has talent, but she's fickle and often thinks she isn't good enough. Add in a paternalistic cousin who thinks she should just give up on her ambitions and marry him already, and what follows is nine books of EBB using her heroine as the representative of her ideas on art, Victorian society, and The Woman Question, amongst other things.So obviously, this subject matter raises a lot of gender-centric questions, which is what most of the relevant literary criticism focuses on. I can honestly say that the plot events and the points EBB tries to make have influenced me a lot in terms of feminist thinking. I often had to delete a page that read a suspicious lot as Feminism 101 upon rereading, but I never saw it as wasted energy. Reading experiences Aurora Leigh has influenced: The Edge of Never, The Graceling Realm series, Mistborn: The Final Empire, Blindness, Oryx and Crake, Anybody But Him, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, Dash & Lily's Book of Dares, The Fault in Our Stars, Two-Way Street, every romance novel ever, and this list will probably forever grow.It was fascinating, to see how Barrett Browning interlaces several genres from different social standings and uses these to open the debate to women-centric questions. The discussion on the trashiness of romance novels, and, by extension their readers, who couldn't possibly be anything else than unhappy housewives? That was already happening in Victorian England. EBB don't care, she just mixes it in with the highbrow, noble, "masculine" genres such as the epic and the heroic romance, and it all worked out fine. The issue is that while this is all very intriguing on a theoretical level, if you're interested in these kinds of things at least, it doesn't make the story more engaging. Aurora is a very meditative character. She often goes on a completely random tangent that might prove relevant to the bigger picture, but also halts the narrative. She represents so many female archetypes (the artist, the motherless daughter, the independent woman, the Nymph, Eve, Lilith, Persephone, the Improvisatrice, ...) that I never quite got the feeling of a distinctive personality. The same goes for Romney Leigh and Marian Erle. I never had the feeling I was reading about characters. I like Aurora, feel indifferent about Marian, and dislike Romney, but as you can tell, none of those are essentially strong feelings.However, part of that might have been due to the fact that I was in complete analysis mode every time I picked this up. While I have three physical copies of this novel (I'm just that kind of overzealous student), I would recommend opting for The Norton Critical edition if you're interested in reading this. It has a lot of relevant footnotes (EBB loves to use a lot of specific terminology and references to the classics) and includes some bonus material, such as selected letters from the Brownings, short essays on social and/or gender issues - both from Victorian and contemporary critics - , information on how (badly) women-centric literature was recieved in that time, ...What I will say for Aurora Leigh's relative unreadability is that it doesn't break the book for me. Sometimes, when you've studied something long and hard, it's hard to see the actual text or narrative. One of my teachers once compared it to building your own house. She was so involved with the construction that when her house was finished, she saw the bricks, the wiring, the plumbing, the isolation, but those elements never came together to give her a house. That never happened to me here. Maybe now that I no longer have to come up with innovative ways of interpretation and critical debate, I can finally read for the story.

  • Kara Brockett
    2019-05-19 06:07

    Maybe this poem fascinates me because I go to Baylor. Maybe these words excite me because I can stroll through the Armstrong-Browning library and see early drafts of Aurora Leigh in the author's own handwriting. Maybe EBB's living room furniture releases some abundance of curiosity in my mind that pops the words off the page. Maybe I like this poem because I know that EBB and I have read many of the same books and this produces some type of brain kinship.I'm not really sure.All I know is that I read this poem and it has become a part of me. You'll have to excuse my melodramatic response. Let me just say that there is something special about the words that force you see your own world differently. Words that remind you to soar in the heavens and stare at the sewers.

  • Laura
    2019-05-17 09:11

    Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

  • Melanie
    2019-04-21 06:02

    I'm normally not a huge poetry fan (especially English poetry), but I make an exception for *Aurora Leigh.* A verse novel, an urban epic, a working wife and househusband: there's too much paradox here not to love it.

  • Courtney(classicswithcourtney)
    2019-04-28 06:07

    This is a Victorian epic poem that I had to read for my Victorian Literature class. While it was rather long and at times opaque, I really did enjoy it. I'm not a quote person, but I found myself underlining passages and connecting with this book. This book is rather fascinating, especially because of the cast of characters who are quite complex. I even wrote my final paper on this, so you know I enjoyed it. I would love to come back to this in the future and really enjoy and tear apart this text.

  • Sarah
    2019-04-28 07:46

    I'm teaching this epic poem in my Victorian Poetry class this month, which has given me a chance to read it again for the first time in several years. I first read Aurora Leigh as a first-year college student in 1994 and was utterly blown away by the fact that a Victorian poem addressed so frankly the kinds of questions I was thinking about as a young woman in the late twentieth century. What kind of work should I do in the world? What kind of work did the world need? Could a poet help make the world better? How could romantic relationships and a vocation or calling go together? Where might child-bearing fit into a creative life? And the wild plot twists also hooked me--the ways that completely unforeseen developments turned up seemingly every twenty pages, yet then seemed completely organic to the poem's narrative as it developed.I've had to read Aurora Leigh several more times in classes I've taken, and I've taught it four or five times in my own college classrooms. This semester, I've been thrilled by the fact that my 20-year-old students have been saying, "How have we never heard of this before?"If you think that Victorian literature is all--and that Victorian people (especially women) were all--stodgy and boring and shortsighted and strait laced, this book-length poem will complicate your thinking, as long as you're patient and let yourself get into reading it. It won't take long for it to feel as though you're reading a novel. And then you might find yourself not wanting to put it down.

  • Liz
    2019-04-22 05:07

    I needed a break from my Gothic teen novels so decided to read this epic poem by one of my favorite poets Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I thought it was beautiful. It was a feminist story to some extent and a good attempt to describe what it is to be an artist/poet. I was touched by much of the imagery and eloquence in the writing. Was it an easy read, no. It took me a while to get through simply because I really had to concentrate on what I was reading. I guess it was a good thing I moved away from the teen novels as I was losing my ability to process more difficult works!

  • Christin
    2019-04-29 07:01

    I think I have always secretly wanted to be EBB/Aurora Leigh and that is why this text about the profound power of writing and the staggering beauty of reading gives my soul hope. Plus, it's a novel in verse. Could YOU write a novel in verse?

  • Aileen
    2019-05-03 04:09

    I am surprised to say that I really liked this. I think if asked before I read it if I would enjoy Victorian feminist epic poetry, I would have answered with a definitive no. The plot of this is a bit predictable, but there are some really lovely images in here. And I was also a bit shocked by how violent it all was - mostly in metaphor, though not entirely. Which I think is pretty interesting when you hold it up alongside the idea of poetry as a feminine thing - both gendered female, if a poem has a gender, and feminizing to the men who wrote it. And then here Elizabeth Barret Browning has blood and guts and rapes and burns and blinds her poem.

  • Joanne
    2019-04-23 09:58

    Readers should be greeted with a warning that this is a longer narrative poem than Paradise Lost. That being said, it's also a great story full of intrigue, references of Italy versus England, feminism, and literature. The love story, albeit very Jane Eyre, is also touching (although I'd like to imagine they're slightly more distant cousins than described). Aurora is a great female character and a wonderful individual in her own right. Her search for truth and poetry is admirable, as is the story of Marian Erle.

  • JoAnn Jordan
    2019-04-22 07:07

    This is a great novel in verse. Though long the story is well told. I had missed this masterpiece earlier in life and am quite glad to find it now.I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy love stories or poetry.

  • Diana
    2019-05-04 11:59

    So much fun to read. Elizabeth Barrett Browning takes "the narrative" to the next level, while suggesting some revolutionary ideas for the 19th century.

  • Cody
    2019-05-19 07:04

    You'd think I'd eventually tire of reading about the plight of the struggling artist. Well, I guess I kind of have...but this is in verse...and gorgeously written!

  • Joseph Tepperman
    2019-05-11 06:56

    so masterfully written! moreso than anything i've seen from her husband bob.

  • H
    2019-04-27 10:56

    from BOOK ONE:A book in one hand,--mere statistics, (ifI chanced to lift the cover) count of allThe goats whose bears are sprouting down toward hell.I read books bad and good--some bad and goodAt once: good aims not always make good books;Well-tempered spades turn up ill-smelling soilsIn digging vineyards, even; . . .The world of books is still the world, I write,And both worlds have God's providence, thank God,To keep and hearten: with some struggle, indeed,Among the breakers, some hard swimming throughThe deeps--I lost breath in my soul sometimesAnd cried 'God save me if there's any God.'But, even so, God save me; and, being dashedFrom error on to error, every turnStill brought me nearer to the central truth.. . . What's this, Aurora Leigh,You write so of the poets, and not laugh?Those virtuous liars, dreamers after dark,Exaggerators of the sun and moon,And soothsayers in a tea-cup?. . . O delightAnd triumph of the poet,--who would sayA man's mere 'yes,' a woman's common 'no,'A little human hope of that or this,And says the word so that it burns you throughWith a special revelation, shakes the heart Of all the men and women in the world,As if one came back from the dead and spoke,With eyes too happy, a familiar thingBecome divine i' the utterance!They saw a light at a window now and then,They had not set there. Who had set it there?My father's sister started when she caughtMy soul agaze in my eyes.===from BOOK TWO:Observe,--it had not muchConsoled the race of mastodons to knowBefore they went to fossil, that anonTheir place should quicken with the elephantThey were not elephants but mastodons:And I, a man, as men are now, and notAs men may be hereafter, feel with menIn the agonising present.You think a woman ripens as a peach,--In the cheeks, chiefly.'Now,' I said, 'may GodBe witness 'twixt us two!' and with the word,Meseemed I floated into a sudden lightAbove his stature,--'am I proved too weakTo stand alone, yet strong enough to bearSuch leaners on my shoulder? poor to think,Yet rich enough to sympathise with thought?Incompetent to sing, as blackbirds can,Yet competent to love, like HIM?'A starved manExceeds a fat beast: we'll not barter, sir,The beautiful for barley.--And, even so,I hold you will not compass your poor endsOf barley-feeding and material ease,Without a poet's individualismTo work your universal. It takes a soul,To move body: it takes a high-souled man,To move the masses . . even to a cleaner stye:It takes the idea, to blow a hair's breadth offThe dust of the actual.==from BOOK THREE:Get work; get work;Be sure 'tis better than what you work to get.Youth's stern, set face to faceWith youth's ideal: and when people cameI smiled for pity of them who pitied me,And thought I should be better soon perhapsFor those ill looks. Observe--'I,' means in youthJust I . . the conscious and eternal soulWith all its ends,--and not the outside life,The parcel-man, the doublet of the flesh,The so much liver, lung, integument,Which make the sum of 'I' hereafter, whenWorld-talkers talk of doing well or ill.I had to live, that therefore I might work.And, being but poor, I was constrained, for life,To work with one hand for the booksellers,While working with the other for myselfAnd art. You swim with feet as well as hands,Or make small way. I apprehended this,--In England, no one lives by verse that lives;And, apprehending, I resolved by proseTo make a space to sphere my living verse.Thus, at three,This poor weaned kid would run off from the fold,This babe would steal off from the mother's chair,And, creeping through the golden walls of gorse,Would find some keyhole toward the secrecyOf Heaven's high blue, and, nestling down, peer out--Oh, not to catch the angels at their games,She had never heard of angels, but to gazeShe knew not why, to see she knew not what,A-hungering outward from the barren earthFor something like a joy. She liked, she said,To dazzle black her sight against the sky,For then, it seemed, some grand blind Love came down,And groped her out, and clasped he with a kiss;She learnt God that way, and was beat for itWhenever she went home,--yet came again,As surely as the trapped hare, getting free,Returns to his form.If a flowerWere thrown you out of heaven at intervals,You'd soon attain to a trick of looking up,--And so with her.==from BOOK FOUR:This perhaps was love--To have its hands too full of gifts to give,For putting out a hand to take a gift;To love so much, the perfect round of loveIncludes, in strict conclusion, the being loved;As Eden-dew went up and fell again,Enough for watering Eden.We are wrong always, when we think too muchOf what we think or are; albeit our thoughtsBe verily bitter as self-sacrifice,We're no less selfish. If we sleep on rocksOr roses, sleeping past the hour of noonWe're lazy. This I write against myself.The Lady Waldemar had missed her tool,Had broken it in the lock as being too straightFor a crooked purpose, . . ."The whole creation, from the hour we are born,Perplexes us with questions. Not a stoneBut cries behind us, every weary step,'Where, where?' I leave stones to reply to stones.Enough for me and for my fleshly heartTo harken the invocations of my kind,When men catch hold upon my shuddering nervesAnd shriek, 'What help? what hope? what bread i' the house,'What fire i' the frost?' . . .==from BOOK FIVEA tree's mere firewood, unless humanised;Which well the Greeks knew, when they stirred the barkWith close-pressed bosoms of subsiding nymphs,And made the forest-rivers garrulousWith babble of gods.All men are possible heroes: every age,Heroic in proportions, double-faced,Looks backward and before, expects a mornAnd claims an epos.Ay, but every ageAppears to souls who live in it, (ask Carlyle)Most unheroic. . . . That's wrong thinking, to my mind,And wrong thoughts make poor poems.But poets shouldExert a double vision; should have eyesTo see near things as comprehensiblyAs if afar they took their point of sight,And distant things, as intimately deep,As if they touched them. Let us strive for this.I do distrust the poet who discerns No character or glory in his times,And trundles back his soul five hundred years . . .As dead as must be, for the greater part,The poems made on their chivalric bones.And that's no wonder: death inherits death.King Arthur's selfWas commonplace to Lady Guenever;And Camelot to minstrels seemed as flat,As Regent street to poets.Never flinch,But still, unscrupulously epic, catchUpon a burning lava of a song,The full-veined, heaving, double-breasted Age; . . .And take for a worthier stage the soul itself,Its shifting fancies and celestial lights,With all its grand orchestral silencesTo keep the pauses of the rhythmic sounds.Bubbles round a keelMean nought, excepting that the vessel moves.There's more than passion goes to make a man,Or book, which is a man too.Advise him that he is not overshrewdIn being so little modest: a dropped starMakes bitter waters, says a Book I've read, . . .Good love, howe'er ill-placed,Is better for a man's soul in the end,Than if he loved ill what deserves love well.A pagan, kissing, for a step of Pan,The wild-goat's hoof-print on the loamy down,Exceeds our modern thinker who turns backThe strata . . granite, limestone, coal, and clay,Concluding coldly with, 'Here's law! Where's God?'Still, [my Italian hills] ye goYour own determined, calm, indifferent wayToward sunrise, shade by shade, and light by light;Of all the grand progression nought left out;As if God verily made you for yourselves,And would not interrupt your life with ours.==from BOOK SEVENThe world's male chivalry has perished out,But women are knights-errant to the last;And, if Cervantes had been greater still,He had made his Don a Donna.So it clears,And so we rain our skies blue.A mere itself,--cup, column, or candlestick,All patterns of what shall be in the Mount;The whole temporal show related royally,And built up to eterne significanceThrough the open arms of God. 'There's nothing greatNor small,' has said a poet of our day, . . .How known, they know not,--why, they cannot find,So straight call out on genius, say, 'A manProduced this,'--when much rather they should say,k' 'Tis insight, and he saw this.'How sure it is,That, if we say a true word, instantlyWe feel 'tis God's, not ours, and pass it onAs bread at sacrament, . . .It's sublime,This perfect solitude of foreign lands!To be, as if you had not been till then,And were then, simply that you chose to be: . . .==from BOOK NINE--drawing you who gaze,With passionate desire, to leap and plungeAnd find a sea-king with a voice of waves,And treacherous soft eyes, and slippery locksYou cannot kiss but you shall bring awayTheir salt upon your lips.' . . . After Adam, work was curse;The natural creature labours, sweats and frets.But, after Christ, work turns to privilege;And henceforth one with our humanity,Te Six-day Worker, working still in us,Has called us freely to work on with HimIn high companionship. So happiest!I count that Heaven itself is only workTo a surer issue. . . .''. . . God's self would never have come down to die,Could man have thanked him for it.''. . . Passioned to exaltThe artist's instinct in me at the costOf putting down the woman's--I forgotNo perfect artist is developed hereFrom any imperfect woman. . . .'What he said,I fain would write. But if an angel spokeIn thunder, should we, haply, know much moreThan that it thundered? If a cloud came downAnd wrapt us wholly, could we draw its shape,As if on the outside, and not overcome?

  • Robin Sencenbach Ferguson
    2019-04-22 05:55

    "Aurora Leigh" was meant to be Elizabeth Barrett Browning (EBB)'s crowning masterpiece. Whether it is or is not a masterpiece is up to the reader, I think. It is undoubtedly ambitious and unique. I think "Aurora Leigh" is a remarkable if imperfect epic poem about the value of the artist in society, the place of women in Victorian England, and Aurora's struggles to balance both those roles.At 20, passionate, idealistic, and orphaned "Aurora Leigh" does the unthinkable--she rejects her wealthy cousin's offer of marriage and decides to pursue life as a poet. Romney does not believe that she as a woman has the passion or ability to write great Art, and Aurora thinks he is too consumed with lofty ideals to be a good husband. The two cousins go their separate ways and are more often apart than together for the rest of the poem. But the tension and tone of Aurora's writings about him speak volumes about the status of their relationship--"It's complicated." Along the way Aurora must confront Romney's other loves--the luckless, saintly, and lower-class Marian Erle and crafty, sarcastic Lady Waldemar.The Romney/Aurora relationship and the continuing saga of wrongs done to the long-suffering Marian (eventually, EBB, a character suffers to the point where we no longer care about their suffering--seriously) make for most of the plot. The rest is a discussion of the place of the artist in society, the struggles of a poet, and how being a woman both enhances and complicates all of the above. I've read that "Aurora Leigh" would be classified as a feminist or proto-feminist work. Whether it is or is not depends on how you define feminism. But EBB celebrates the Victorian model of womanhood--warm, maternal, loving. She does not seek to dismiss "typical" feminine traits but instead to embrace them. She feels that traits that her Victorian society would describe as feminine (read here: weak) would help her create art that would improve the world and touch the soul. This discussion is remarkable because I've never read anything that's so frank about the writing process--the author writing as a different author, talking about her craft, her struggles, her writer's block. The only comparison I can think of is Virginia Woolf's remarkable "A Room of One's Own." I can bet that "Aurora Leigh" inspired the latter.While both narratives are interesting, they don't mix well. In fact, in my opinion, what derails "Aurora Leigh" as a masterpiece is the narrative itself. It is disjointed and even ham-strung by the poetic form itself. There is no narrative flow, and the climatic aspects of the narrative are buried within beautiful if bewildering poetry. EBB wants to write an epic poem--she has the poetry writing mastered but not the form. Her shorter poetry is absolutely superior.It's an exhausting, long poem and not perhaps for everyone. But if you'd like a challenge and enjoy hearing a poet talk about what it means to be a poet, "Aurora Leigh" would be a good read for you.

  • Dana Loo
    2019-04-25 11:12

    Una lettura meravigliosa questo romanzo in versi della grande Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Un'opera matura, in parte autobiografica, in cui confluisce tutta la sua profonda cultura e dove, libera da ogni vincolo e ormai donna consapevole di poter affermare le proprie idee senza timore di essere giudicata, espone concetti molto scandalosi per l'epoca: autodeterminazione femminile, perdizione, stupro, parlando inoltre del corpo della donna in maniera impensabile per l'epoca. Il tutto filtrato attraverso la potenza e passionalità dei versi che, in alcuni momenti toccano vertici altissimi, vedi il libro dedicato a Muriel nel quale espone la sua tragedia di essere ormai perduto ma, risorto nella maternità, in maniera davvero sublime.Opera complessa ma di scorrevole lettura, ricca di spiritualità e riferimenti biblici Aurora Leigh, alter ego dell'autrice, si batterà contro i privilegi di classe, contro le convenzioni che volevano la donna sottomessa e priva di intelletto e volontà propria, contro chi condanna il peccato a prescindere, senza vederne la causa.Aurora è una donna di lettere che sfida la società rinunciando all'amore e scegliendo di vivere la propria vita realizzandosi nell'arte del poetare, per poi accorgersi, alla fine, che così facendo reprime una parte di sè che non può ignorare senza sacrificare l'altra: spiritualità e natura completano l'essere e lo elevano, non c'è arte senza amore e viceversa...L'opera sollevò grossi clamori in Patria, molti l'accusarono addirittura di plagio in quanto la vicenda del cugino e filantropo Romney, innamorato respinto, ricordava, sul finale, quella di Rochester in Jane Eyre, senza tener in nessun conto il valore simbolico di tale cecità, condizione necessaria per poter finalmente vedersi dentro, nella propria interiorità. Amatissima invece in America, adorata dalla Dickinson che non ne fece mai mistero...

  • jules
    2019-04-24 05:51

    "Of writing many books there is no end;And I who have written much in prose and verseFor others' uses, will write now for mine-Will write my story for my better selfAs when you paint your portrait for a friend,Who keeps it in a drawer and looks at itLong after he has ceased to love you, justTo hold together what he was and is."Although fairly difficult to read and understand for a non-native speaker of English as myself, Aurora Leigh is an interesting poem on many levels. Firstly, it adapts the form of the long poem - usually reserved for epic or works that strove to imitate the classics - to the topic of contemporary (for the 1850s at least) life, which was at the time a groundbreaking concept. Secondly, it features as its main character Aurora, a strong and independent woman, who fights for her right to write and be considered a peer to the other male poets. The first two books start somewhat slow, but the pace quickens as the story goes on, becoming more and more interesting for the modern reader. The abundance of explanatory notes in this particular edition (cured by Kerry McSweeney) aids further in understanding all the texts and phenomena that Elizabeth Barrett Browning cited throughout the whole poem.

  • Lawrence
    2019-05-15 12:07

    I first found out about Aurora Leigh in a search for epic poetry by women. Although I'm not ultimately comfortable, now that I've finished it, with calling it an epic, I daresay it's nevertheless a masterful novel in (blank) verse, featuring among its prominent themes the struggle for social equality, feminism, and the empyrean aspirations of the artist. Barrett Browning has here expertly dovetailed the plot mechanics of a novelist with the spirited musings of a poet. Yes, it's at times difficult to understand, but that's not least due to the characters themselves being given to circumlocution and indirection, which is really a key part of the book's mode. She neither gives us what we expect nor shocks in order to be shocking; her twists are both surprising and natural. If this is what Victorian novels are generally like, sign me up for the course!

  • Michael Cayley
    2019-04-29 12:09

    Elizabeth Barrett Browning's long verse novel. Stylistically, it reads fluently, with generally simple straightforward language. For me it has two defects. The first is that the characterisation of Aurora herself lacks sufficient interest. The second, that there is too much moralising and reflection. Having said that, it is an important proto-feminist work.

  • Amy
    2019-04-26 11:02

    I was not a fan of either a) the style of this book and b) the protagonist. Aurora Leigh was annoying and whiny.

  • C.H.
    2019-05-14 12:03

    Flowery. Very flowery. I believe EBB must have been on the laudanum when she wrote it.

  • Samantha
    2019-04-26 09:13

    This was a masterpiece of a poem. Shines a light which permeates through the ages - recommend to everyone.

  • Leslie
    2019-04-26 08:02

    Aurora Leigh is to Elizabeth Barrett Browning as the Prelude is to William Wordsworth--thus is the poetry class description. That statement has much truth though, since Aurora Leigh Browning's version of the poet's journey. However, her poetic journey is markedly different from Wordsworth's in that she focuses on the woman's journey and presents her story as an epic narrative in novel format. Aurora Leigh, the poem's heroine, struggles with what she feels is her calling to poetry, for she has to simultaneously fight the preconceptions placed on her by men. She never knew her mother, and her father somewhat encouraged her to be brought up by nature and books. These offered much for her education, but her dead mother's portrait also had a great impact on her imagination and formation. When she's sent to live with her aunt, she is practically forced to fit into the mold of women referred to as the cult of domesticity. Gradually, however, she revolts against her aunt's desires and pursues her poetic calling, rejecting a marriage proposal in the process. After moving to London, she meets Marian Erle, who has the greatest impact on her yet. Marian, a young woman on the extreme opposite social side from Aurora, opens Aurora to the ideas of creativity and hope that poetry offers in a world of pain and cruelty. For a brief time, these two women are separated, but Aurora finds Marian again in Paris and takes her with her to Italy, where the story began.Aurora is somewhat of an interesting character, but as a reader, I grew impatient with her for several reasons. First of all, she seems to be a static character except for a sudden transformation within the last few pages of the book. The novel is riddled with her intellectual musings, which are often difficult to plow through. As an aspiring poet, Aurora tends to make use of elaborate literary devices, some of which seem unnecessary and distracting to the story. With that said, Browning was writing in a different time, and "higher speech" was probably called for as a source of great poetic genius. That, and Browning, much like Leigh, was trying to break the pattern of women and become a great poet despite all criticism.I thoroughly enjoyed watching the characters Romney Leigh and Marian Erle. Romney, who proposes to both Aurora and Marian, starts out as a die-hard philanthropist who tends to sacrifice his soul and very happiness in order to accept what he feels is a role unique to him in which he rescues the poor and needy. In some cases, he is actually helpful, but he goes too far in others. He rescues Marian from a life on the street, but then proposes to her mainly out of a desire to create a tie between their social classes. His proposal to Aurora is similarly based on social good instead of love. However, after a terrible ordeal concerning a colossal failure of one of his philansteries, he undergoes the completion of his change. As he speaks to Aurora in the final book, he repents of his earlier ignorance and explains that he is blind but now can see.Marian Erle is a fascinating character with physical traits similar to Browning herself. Although Marian does not undergo any serious transformations, she offers a dramatic background to the central story and provides the catalyst that encourages both Romney's and Aurora's change. Her experiences tug at the reader's heartstrings more than Aurora's inward monologues of her struggles. Through most of the story, Marian is portrayed as a victim of the richer classes and gives Aurora a living example that she does not really have it that bad in the world. Marian is alive at the end of the book, but she explains to Romney and Aurora that she is dead and lives only to love her child. Perhaps the leading factors that affected her life were her lack of a real mother and the cruelty of men and the preying of older women upon her. At the end, she is left as just Marian. Aurora, who also didn't have a mother and didn't have good "step-in" mothers, also struggled with how to deal with men and how to love, but her story ends more happily than Marian's.

  • Melissa
    2019-05-19 11:52

    Aurora Leigh is a beautiful, sublime poem written in blank verse. The language, however, is not the only strong point of the poem. The character of Aurora is fierce and compassionate, as she adapts to her new life in Britain despite her stern aunt. Aurora is born to an English father and an Italian mother and happily spends her childhood among the mountains in Italy. When Aurora's mother dies when she is only four, her father continues to raise her in Italy among her mother's people. When Aurora's father also dies when she is at the young and pivotal age of thirteen, Aurora is shipped off to live in England with her father's sister. Her aunt is a stern spinster who makes Aurora learn what she believes are appropriate skills for a proper English girl. But Aurora is resilient and even though her life is more restrained and cumbersome in England, she still finds pleasure in books and poetry. The beautiful estate on which her aunt lives becomes the inspiration for Aurora to begin writing her own poetry. She takes quiet walks in the early morning before the rest of the house is awake and develops her skill as a writer. She doesn't take the easy way out by marrying her cousin Romney Leigh when he proposes marriage to her. Even when her aunt dies and Aurora is disinherited, she moves to London where she works and supports herself as an author. Browning weaves the theme of class struggles throughout the poem and she especially highlights this social problem through the character of Romney. The poor are depicted as wreteched and even ugly; Romney makes it his life's work to help out the poor and destitute. After his marriage proposal is rejected by Aurora, he saves a woman named Marian Erle from her miserable life and propose to her instead. Marian is the daughter of tramps that roam around the countryside finding any work they can. Marian's father is abusive and her mother tries to sell her off to a local squire and Marian finally runs away from her parents in horror. Romney decides that, even though Marian is well-below his social class, she will make a perfect wife to help him in his social missions. But we are left wondering if these two are really suited as husband and wife. Does Marian truly love Romney or does she simply worship him as her savior. Does Romney really have feelings of love for Marian or is he still in love with his cousin Aurora? The upper class don't fair any better in Browning's verse. They are depicted as vain, judgmental, and petty. The character of Lady Valdemar is the epitome of a greedy upper class English woman who will do everything in her power to fulfill her selfish desires. Lady Valdemar is in love with Romney and once she finds out that he is going to marry a lower class woman like Marian, she sets in motion a series of events that have devastating consequences for all involved in this love triangle. Lady Valdemar's singular focus of getting Romney to the altar makes her a despicable and opportunistic character..At the end of the poem Browning brings the characters back to the place where everything was simpler and happier: Aurora's native land of Italy. There she finds peace once again as she is finally away from the petty gossip and prying eyes of the upper classes in England. Although she does admit at one point that there is still something missing in her life. She is a successful author who has become famous for her poems and novels about love. But will she ever experience this elusive feeling for herself? You will have to read Browning's beautiful poem to find out.

  • Dave Leys
    2019-05-05 09:46

    Wanted to love it because of its inherent weirdness, the humour and eccentricity is, however, too leavened by the Victorian moral earnestness and slowness. Very thoughtful

  • Katy Wilmotte
    2019-05-13 06:45

    "Aurora Leigh, be humble. Shall I hope/To speak my poems in mysterious tune/With man and nature?" Here in this question is the novel's entire theme. It is Aurora's one desire to write poems beautiful and true. Poetry awakens her orphaned heart, poetry sets her soul on fire. This lengthy novel-poem is the story of a soul, a soul made beautiful by its love for art.Lecturers and professors will pull out many other elements of the work: its feminist leanings, its reaction against socialistic movements, its treatment of the lower classes, all of which are valid points of consideration. Yet as happens all too often, these elements are blown up, magnified until they envelop the whole work. "Aurora Leigh is a proto-feminist piece showing a strong independent female trying to make her way in the world and succeeding," they say, or perhaps "Aurora Leigh fails to speak on behalf of women, as Aurora's poetic voice subsumes Marian Erle's story and fails to represent the lower classes."Each of these arguments has merit, but at the core, one must remember that this work is a painting, a map-sketch of Aurora's soul. The characters that shape it come in and go out, but in the end it is still about her. Her and the meaning and merit of art. It's a weighty work, a weighty topic, and not at all a quick and easy read. Like all good poetry, it takes work and investment, but I found it well worth the time. The words are quick, delicate, and delightful, like letting your dessert melt on your tongue and then washing it down with a good sip of tea. By all means, read Aurora Leigh. If (like me) you are reading for school, dig deep into the meaning, into Aurora's soul. Take it all in, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Take in Aurora's soul. Favorite quotes: "We get no good/ By being ungenerous, even to a book/ and calculating profits,--so much help/ By so much reading. It is rather when/ We gloriously forget ourselves and plunge/ Soul-forward, headlong, into a book's profound/ Impassioned for its beauty and salt of truth--/ 'Tis then we get the right good from a book." "...I would rather take my part/ With God's dead, who afford to walk in white/ Yet spread His glory, then keep quiet here/ And gather up my feet from even a step/ For fear to soil my gown in so much dust./ I choose to walk at all risks." "Let others miss me! Never miss me God!" "But poets should/ Exert a double vision; should have eyes/ To see near things as comprehensively/ As if afar they took their point of sight,/ And distant things as innately deep/ As if they touched them. Let us strive for this." "...breathe me upward, Thou in me/ Aspiring who art the way, the truth, the life/ That no truth henceforth seem indifferent/ No way to truth laborious and no life/ Not even this life I live, intolerable!" "Whoever fears God, fears to sit at ease.""...Beloved, let us love so well/ Our work shall still be better for our love/ And still our love be sweeter for our work."

  • Jenny
    2019-05-17 06:13


  • Lynnee Argabright
    2019-04-26 10:10

    This is epic poetry in narrative, which Elizabeth Barrett Browning attempted to give attention to in the Victorian novel-interested audience, and it was very successful. It also nicely gave details about the current culture, focusing for most of the book on life in the mid-nineteenth century. This follows the narrator, Aurora Leigh, from birth to age thirty, from her childhood in Italy to her move to "frosty" England, and back to Italy, from her denied proposal with Romney Leigh to her life with Marian Erle and Marian's baby to her accepted proposal with Romney Leigh. I did not enjoy reading this, because, frankly, I found it boring. Consistently, over 600 lines would pass that could be summarized in a short sentence. In order to get through the book without being so overcome with boredom, I broke my reading time down so I only read 600 lines at a time. It often became philosophical, for instance, about the art of poetry, and I had patience only to skim it. Barrett Browning's lines can certainly be beautiful in their attentive detail; I just don't appreciate it enough. I recognized some of her style included repeating/rephrasing the same line, which was interesting. I did, however, like the independence and strength of Aurora Leigh. She wants to become a poet, and when faced with the possibility of becoming a wife, she declines it, because she thinks it will ruin her chances of becoming a poet/putting in the time to create poetry. I think she was correct there: 1) Romney Leigh was not mature enough when he first proposes that he would expect her to fulfill wifely duties, and she would not have time to write; 2) he did not believe in marriage for love, whereas she would have wanted that; and 3) he did not consider her poet-aspirations valid because of her gender. So, only in the end, when he fully recognizes the success and value of her poetic aspirations and states his love for her can he be a healthy match for her. As one phrase in the book states, "I am Aurora Leigh": I love the assertive strength of Aurora's character.I also really appreciated the treatment of Marian Erle's illegitimate child. Aurora discovers the context of the child's existence and does not blame Marian for it. She considers her pure still, not Marian's fault, and takes her in. She does not judge Marian but treats her as a very caring friend would. Housing Marian was so extremely kind, and it enabled Marian and the child to grow in a loving environment rather than a hate-filled and judgmental one as would be common in the period. So I also really liked that.