In June, 1860, Browning purchased an “old yellow book” from a bookstall in Florence. The book contained legal briefs, pamphlets, and letters relating to a case that had been tried in 1698 involving a child bride, a disguised priest, a triple murder, four hangings and the beheading of a nobleman. Browning resolved to use it as the source for a poem. The result, The Ring and the Book, is certainly one of the most important long poems of the Victorian era and is arguably Browning’s greatest work.
Basing their edition on the 1888–89 version of the poem, Altick and Collins include the last corrections Browning intended before his death. In addition to a substantial introduction, this Broadview Literary Texts edition also includes selections from Browning’s correspondence, and contemporary reviews and reactions to the work.
“To the established virtues of Altick’s 1971 edition—meticulous scholarship, judicious annotation, informative introduction and appendices—Altick and Collins have now made welcome improvements: an open and reader-friendly look with notes at the bottom of the page where one wants them; a score of reviews and letters from contemporaries hailing (sometimes assailing) the enormity of Browning’s genius; most important, a copytext based on the 1888-89 edition and incorporating the poet’s authoritative corrections. This should become at once the edition of choice for classroom or armchair use, and may in time incite a Ring and the Book revival.” — Herbert Tucker, University of Virginia
“Altick and Collins offer us the most reader-friendly text of Browning’s great work along with pithy, concise notes and splendidly compact, lucid background to the text and its creation.” — John Maynard, New York University