Aurora Leigh

 by Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Aurora Leigh by Elizabeth Barrett Browning book cover
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Aurora Leigh (1856) is an epic/novel poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the name of its heroine. The poem is written in blank verse and encompasses nine books (the woman's number, the number of the prophetic books of the Sibyl). It is a first person narration, from the point of view of Aurora, who is modelled on EBB's dead friend, Margaret Fuller, while its other heroine, Marian Erle, is an abused self-taught gypsy who resembles EBB with long spaniel curls. The poem is set in Florence, Malvern, London, and Paris. She uses her knowledge of Hebrew and Greek, while also playing off modern novels, such as Corinne ou Italie by Anne Louise Germaine de Staël, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, and the novels by George Sand. Through Book 5, Aurora narrates her past, from her childhood to the age of about 27; in Books 6-9, the narrative has caught up with her, and she reports events in diary form. Elizabeth Barrett Browning styled the poem "a novel in verse", and referred to it as "the most mature of my works, and the one into which my highest convictions upon Life and Art have entered."

 

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