Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Best of the Web

Best of the Web

Websites

The Victorian Web

This website is a useful resource for anyone studying the Victorian period. This particular link takes you straight to the page on Robert Browning.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Robert Browning's wife, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, was also a poet, and they influenced each other's work profoundly. Any student of Robert Browning should try to familiarize him or herself with Elizabeth Barrett's life and work, too. This is a link to a biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning, with additional links to some of her poems.

Audio

Two Readings of "Spanish Cloister"

This website has links to two different readings (on the right-hand side), so you can compare different ways you can read the poem. These are great readings – very dramatic!

Another Reading

This link takes you to an mp3 of the poem read aloud by Professor Steve Arata of the University of Virginia. It's a good reading, but he's not so great growling convincingly.

Early Recording of Browning

This isn't a recording of "Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister"; it's of a different poem – "How They Brought the Good News From Ghent to Aix." But it's read by Robert Browning himself, on an early Edison phonograph, a precursor to the analog tape recorder. Neat! And he forgets the words of his own poem partway through, which is pretty hilarious.

Images

The Spanish Cloister

Having trouble visualizing what a cloister in a monastery actually looks like? Check out this aerial photograph of a real cloister.

Another Cloister

Here's another image of a cloister. This one is of the covered walkway around the cloister, with a view of the garden to one side and the refectory, or dining hall, on the other.

Typical Layout of a Monastery

This image shows you the typical layout of a medieval monastery, with the cloister at the center, surrounded by four buildings: the church, the refectory (dining hall), the dormitory, and the library/writing room. That's all a person needs, right?

Robert Browning Portrait

Here's a portrait of Robert Browning as a young man. Those Victorians sure knew how to do the dramatic facial hair.

Critical Essays

"Further Thoughts on Browning's Spanish Cloister" by Richard Wear

This is a short essay on the speaker's religious hypocrisy, with some useful analysis of the different kinds of heresies referenced and the mysterious Line 70 ("Hy, Zy, Hine"). You will need a subscription to JSTOR through your school or library to access the full article – or else ask a librarian for help getting a copy.

"The Blasted Rose-Acacia: A Note on the Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister"

Here's a short essay about the metaphor of the rose-acacia in the final stanza. You will need a subscription to JSTOR through your school or library to access the full article – or else ask a librarian for help getting a copy.

"Rage in 'Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister' and 'Locksley Hall'"

Here's an essay on the function of rage in "Soliloquy of the Spanish Cloister" and "Locksley Hall," a poem by Browning's contemporary, the Victorian poet Alfred Lord Tennyson.

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