About the BookBrowning is now widely regarded as the nineteenth century’s great poet of human psychology, but commentators in his own time defined him rather as a poet of ‘the grotesque’. In this study John Woolford undertakes to translate this term by positioning Browning in a major aesthetic tradition running from the Romantic sublime through to modern theorizations of the grotesque such as Bakhtin’s. This perspective offers new insights into Browning’s most famous and significant generic contribution, the dramatic monologue, as well as explaining features of his poetic language such as his ludic experiments and his notorious linguistic difficulty. Woolford argues persuasively that the difficulty is something that can now be celebrated, rather than deplored or excused. Browning was perhaps the cleverest English poet, but he was also more than that: contemporaries’ comparisons of his human curiosity and penetration to that of Chaucer, or Shakespeare, were not misplaced. All were masters of what Chesterton called ‘the serious grotesque’.About the Author/sJohn Woolford is Research Professor in the School of English, Sheffield University. Previous publications include Browning the Revisionary (1988) and Robert Browning in Contexts (1998); (with Daniel Karlin) he has co-edited Annotated English Poets: Browning vols i and ii (1991) and co-authored Robert Browning (1996), and (with Mariaconcetta Costantini) Victorian Landscapes (2002). Volume iii of the Browning edition is scheduled for publication in 2007.