Students of Browning have long been puzzled by the discrepancies between the dramatic framework ofFifineand its symbolic development, but these difficulties are resolved in Southwell's explication by a biographical hypothesis. The powerful influence of the memory of his beloved wife, Elizabeth, involved Browning in a deep ambivalence, andFifine at the Fairrepresents his effort to escape the effects of the profound inhibitions associated with her memory, while at the same time remaining loyal to it.
The poem is itself a flawed quest for Eros. Browning's symbolic vision of sexuality as the central vitalizing force in human culture -- a supreme achievement of the poem -- is followed by a renunciation of the quest, but the validity of the vision is explicitly affirmed and its promise recognized.
InFifine at the FairBrowning's artistic powers are splendidly in evidence. Southwell's fresh examination of the tensions within the poem offers new understanding of its power.
Subjects: Language & Literature, History
Table of Contents
You are viewing the table of contents
You do not have access to this
on JSTOR. Try logging in through your institution for access.