Date 1850-05-01
Publication Germ
Topic WMR Reviews Browning
AP display
RA display
Subject literature
Keywords Browning
  ↳ aesthetic & critical theory
Standards PRB aesthetic standards
  ↳ naturalism
Notes How to create, critique and read aesthetic naturalism.

Annotation details

50 May Germ

Reviews. Christmas Eve and Easter Day: by Robert Browning. -Chapman and Hall. 1850. Rose, Andrea. The Germ: The Literary Magazine of the Preraphaelites. Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 1992. pp. 187-192.


Review of Browning collection.


This article appearing the "review" category leads the reader to expect a conventional analysis of poetry similar to Rossetti's previous reviews of Clough and Arnold. But in this review, the focus is primarily on critical and aesthetic theory and Browning is only tangentially and indirectly considered near the end. More accurately, the "review" explains the fundamentals of naturalism, criticism, style, and how to read Browning.

Rossetti starts with the "office of the critic," outlining the rights, scope and duties of the critic, which include to duty to "state facts and to suggest considerations," but not to "lay down dogmas," while at the same time convincing readers to "adopt [the critic's] convictions."

Rossetti describes the creative process with an argument that establishes the successive links between inspiration and creation, which is the role of the poet, then informed reception, which is the duty of the reader.

Implicit in the argument is the point that outside interference in the artist's creative process, particularly interference stemming from reception expectations or worse, stipulations, is the enemy of naturalism and pure aesthetics. Rossetti discusses the need for "period" form, meaning that the aesthetic creation must not be a reprisal of another form used previously, because that older form would not be appropriate either to the present context or the artist's present inspiration. "As a corollary," Rossetti states, each age must and ought to reject its predecessor." He spends the majority of the article establishing that style must conform to subject and not vice versa.

Rossetti posits a necessary link between naturalism and individualism, the two in tandem serving as the guarantor of authenticity and sincerity in aesthetics. He closes with an explanation of how one should critique-and presumably, to interpret or receive-poetic and aesthetic beauty.

After that explanation and with those arguments for naturalism, sincerity, appropriateness and correct style, Rossetti urges the reader (who he cites as saying, "Why cannot I read Sordello?")-to then go back and reread for the true aesthetic experience of Browning.




Browning; theory of criticism and aesthetics

Standards of Judgment:

Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic standards