In old age, Browning always referred people to The Ring and the Book as his finest achievement. This is the second of the three volumes of the Oxford edition presenting this great Italian murder-story, including the monologues of the villain, the aristocrat Guido Franceschini, Pompilia his abused wife, and Caponsacchi, the priest who tries to rescue her from death. The commentary, at the bottom of each page, elucidates Browning's creative and sometimes challenging use of language with reference to his correspondence, his historical sources, and his own rich experience of Italy. Previously unidentified allusions are fully explained, and a newly discovered source from a seventeenth-century Italian chronicle is presented for the first time (in Appendix B), allowing further insight into Browning's engagement with history. The copy text of 1888-9 has numerous emendations to its punctuation, both those authorized by the poet in the last year of his life and those resulting from corrected compositors' errors, and these, combined with fourteen emendations to substantives, produce a text as near as possible to Browning's final intentions.
Stefan Hawlin is Lecturer in English, University of Buckingham
Tim Burnett is Manuscript Librarian at the British Library (retired)