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Aurora Leigh

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  1,802 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
This verse-novel tells the story of a female writer, balancing work and love. It is and based on Elizabeth's own experiences.

Excerpt from Aurora Leigh: A Poem in Nine Books
Aurora Leigh.
First Book.
Of writing many books there is no end;
And I, who have written much in prose and verse
For others' uses, will write now for mine, -
Will write my story for my better self,
As when
...more
Paperback, 361 pages
Published September 17th 1998 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1856)
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Bookdragon Sean
May 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Jane Eyre Fans
What do you say to someone who tells you to stop being yourself? You love him and you want to marry him, and he comes out with that. He tells you to stop writing poetry; it’s something women can’t do well apparently, and he tells you to give it up. Essentially, he tells you to stop being you. Here is Romney’s ignorant argument to his Aurora:

“We get no Christ from you- and verily
We shall not get a poet in my mind."


Aurora does the right thing, she says the right things, and she walks away. She do
...more
Ellis
Actual rating is closer to 3.75 stars.

Ah, Aurora Leigh, how do I review thee?
Shall I recount the ways in which you made me cry,
the nights of frustration, the days of recluse,
since I had a dissertation to finish,
and you were just so damn unreadable?



Aurora Leigh is a weird book.

With that, I reworked my basic sigh of desperation while I was writing into the opening line of my dissertation, because this book is just fucking weird, man.

I regularly doubted if I should keep that introduction, but my
...more
Kara Brockett
Nov 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Maybe this poem fascinates me because I go to Baylor. Maybe these words excite me because I can stroll through the Armstrong-Browning library and see early drafts of Aurora Leigh in the author's own handwriting. Maybe EBB's living room furniture releases some abundance of curiosity in my mind that pops the words off the page. Maybe I like this poem because I know that EBB and I have read many of the same books and this produces some type of brain kinship.

I'm not really sure.

All I know is that I
...more
Aubrey
4.9/5
I believe / In no one's honour which another keeps, / Nor man's nor woman's.

Do we keep / Our love to pay our debts with?
It is rather pathetic, what is encouraged to soar and what is denied that extra gust of wind beneath its wings. More pathetic yet is when the status quo suckers bend over backwards to excuse the artificiality as if, pound for pound, the more neglected demographic did not meet the demands, layer by layer, pillar by pillar, defined by such vaunted categories as the epic
...more
Laura
Jun 25, 2017 marked it as to-read
Recommends it for: Dagny, Wanda
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.
Melanie
Nov 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm normally not a huge poetry fan (especially English poetry), but I make an exception for *Aurora Leigh.* A verse novel, an urban epic, a working wife and househusband: there's too much paradox here not to love it.
Courtney (courtney & books)
Dec 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished-in-2017
This is a Victorian epic poem that I had to read for my Victorian Literature class. While it was rather long and at times opaque, I really did enjoy it. I'm not a quote person, but I found myself underlining passages and connecting with this book. This book is rather fascinating, especially because of the cast of characters who are quite complex. I even wrote my final paper on this, so you know I enjoyed it. I would love to come back to this in the future and really enjoy and tear apart this tex ...more
Sarah
Feb 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm teaching this epic poem in my Victorian Poetry class this month, which has given me a chance to read it again for the first time in several years. I first read Aurora Leigh as a first-year college student in 1994 and was utterly blown away by the fact that a Victorian poem addressed so frankly the kinds of questions I was thinking about as a young woman in the late twentieth century. What kind of work should I do in the world? What kind of work did the world need? Could a poet help make the ...more
Liz
Aug 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I needed a break from my Gothic teen novels so decided to read this epic poem by one of my favorite poets Elizabeth Barrett Browning. I thought it was beautiful. It was a feminist story to some extent and a good attempt to describe what it is to be an artist/poet. I was touched by much of the imagery and eloquence in the writing. Was it an easy read, no. It took me a while to get through simply because I really had to concentrate on what I was reading. I guess it was a good thing I moved away fr ...more
Christin
Nov 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think I have always secretly wanted to be EBB/Aurora Leigh and that is why this text about the profound power of writing and the staggering beauty of reading gives my soul hope. Plus, it's a novel in verse. Could YOU write a novel in verse?
Kubra
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it
It is undoubtedly an important work, loaded with meaning, interesting as a female künstlerroman/bildungsroman or a feminist epic poem, but, Heavens, it was an awfully hard read.
Aileen
Oct 28, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am surprised to say that I really liked this. I think if asked before I read it if I would enjoy Victorian feminist epic poetry, I would have answered with a definitive no. The plot of this is a bit predictable, but there are some really lovely images in here. And I was also a bit shocked by how violent it all was - mostly in metaphor, though not entirely. Which I think is pretty interesting when you hold it up alongside the idea of poetry as a feminine thing - both gendered female, if a poem ...more
Joanne
Sep 16, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Readers should be greeted with a warning that this is a longer narrative poem than Paradise Lost. That being said, it's also a great story full of intrigue, references of Italy versus England, feminism, and literature. The love story, albeit very Jane Eyre, is also touching (although I'd like to imagine they're slightly more distant cousins than described). Aurora is a great female character and a wonderful individual in her own right. Her search for truth and poetry is admirable, as is the stor ...more
JoAnn Jordan
Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great novel in verse. Though long the story is well told. I had missed this masterpiece earlier in life and am quite glad to find it now.

I highly recommend this book to those who enjoy love stories or poetry.
Diana
Dec 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
So much fun to read. Elizabeth Barrett Browning takes "the narrative" to the next level, while suggesting some revolutionary ideas for the 19th century.
Cody
You'd think I'd eventually tire of reading about the plight of the struggling artist. Well, I guess I kind of have...but this is in verse...and gorgeously written!
Joseph Tepperman
so masterfully written! moreso than anything i've seen from her husband bob.
H
from BOOK ONE:

A book in one hand,--mere statistics, (if
I chanced to lift the cover) count of all
The goats whose bears are sprouting down toward hell.

I read books bad and good--some bad and good
At once: good aims not always make good books;
Well-tempered spades turn up ill-smelling soils
In digging vineyards, even; . . .
The world of books is still the world, I write,
And both worlds have God's providence, thank God,
To keep and hearten: with some struggle, indeed,
Among the breakers, some hard swimmin
...more
Robin Sencenbach Ferguson
"Aurora Leigh" was meant to be Elizabeth Barrett Browning (EBB)'s crowning masterpiece. Whether it is or is not a masterpiece is up to the reader, I think. It is undoubtedly ambitious and unique. I think "Aurora Leigh" is a remarkable if imperfect epic poem about the value of the artist in society, the place of women in Victorian England, and Aurora's struggles to balance both those roles.

At 20, passionate, idealistic, and orphaned "Aurora Leigh" does the unthinkable--she rejects her wealthy cou
...more
Dana Loo
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, classici
Una lettura meravigliosa questo romanzo in versi della grande Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Un'opera matura, in parte autobiografica, in cui confluisce tutta la sua profonda cultura e dove, libera da ogni vincolo e ormai donna consapevole di poter affermare le proprie idee senza timore di essere giudicata, espone concetti molto scandalosi per l'epoca: autodeterminazione femminile, perdizione, stupro, parlando inoltre del corpo della donna in maniera impensabile per l'epoca. Il tutto filtrato attra ...more
jules
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uni, 2018
"Of writing many books there is no end;
And I who have written much in prose and verse
For others' uses, will write now for mine-
Will write my story for my better self
As when you paint your portrait for a friend,
Who keeps it in a drawer and looks at it
Long after he has ceased to love you, just
To hold together what he was and is."

Although fairly difficult to read and understand for a non-native speaker of English as myself, Aurora Leigh is an interesting poem on many levels. Firstly, it adapts the
...more
Lawrence
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rereading
I first found out about Aurora Leigh in a search for epic poetry by women. Although I'm not ultimately comfortable, now that I've finished it, with calling it an epic, I daresay it's nevertheless a masterful novel in (blank) verse, featuring among its prominent themes the struggle for social equality, feminism, and the empyrean aspirations of the artist. Barrett Browning has here expertly dovetailed the plot mechanics of a novelist with the spirited musings of a poet. Yes, it's at times difficul ...more
Michael Cayley
Dec 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
Elizabeth Barrett Browning's long verse novel. Stylistically, it reads fluently, with generally simple straightforward language. For me it has two defects. The first is that the characterisation of Aurora herself lacks sufficient interest. The second, that there is too much moralising and reflection. Having said that, it is an important proto-feminist work.
Amy
Jan 18, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was not a fan of either a) the style of this book and b) the protagonist. Aurora Leigh was annoying and whiny.
C.H.
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Flowery. Very flowery. I believe EBB must have been on the laudanum when she wrote it.
Samantha
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This was a masterpiece of a poem. Shines a light which permeates through the ages - recommend to everyone.
Christy
Interesting in patches.
Leslie
Aurora Leigh is to Elizabeth Barrett Browning as the Prelude is to William Wordsworth--thus is the poetry class description. That statement has much truth though, since Aurora Leigh Browning's version of the poet's journey. However, her poetic journey is markedly different from Wordsworth's in that she focuses on the woman's journey and presents her story as an epic narrative in novel format. Aurora Leigh, the poem's heroine, struggles with what she feels is her calling to poetry, for she has to ...more
Melissa
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Aurora Leigh is a beautiful, sublime poem written in blank verse. The language, however, is not the only strong point of the poem. The character of Aurora is fierce and compassionate, as she adapts to her new life in Britain despite her stern aunt. Aurora is born to an English father and an Italian mother and happily spends her childhood among the mountains in Italy. When Aurora's mother dies when she is only four, her father continues to raise her in Italy among her mother's people. When Aurora ...more
Dave Leys
Mar 08, 2017 rated it liked it
Wanted to love it because of its inherent weirdness, the humour and eccentricity is, however, too leavened by the Victorian moral earnestness and slowness. Very thoughtful
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Elizabeth Barrett Browning was one of the most respected poets of the Victorian era.

Born in County Durham, the eldest of 12 children, Browning was educated at home. She wrote poetry from around the age of six and this was compiled by her mother, comprising what is now one of the largest collections extant of juvenilia by any English writer. At 15 Browning became ill, suffering from intense head an
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“Earth's crammed with heaven...
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.”
795 likes
“Books, books, books!
I had found the secret of a garret room
Piled high with cases in my father’s name;
Piled high, packed large,--where, creeping in and out
Among the giant fossils of my past,
Like some small nimble mouse between the ribs
Of a mastodon, I nibbled here and there
At this or that box, pulling through the gap,
In heats of terror, haste, victorious joy,
The first book first. And how I felt it beat
Under my pillow, in the morning’s dark,
An hour before the sun would let me read!
My books!”
106 likes
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