(b) The dramatic monologue
The best introductions to these poems are the prefaces to them in the Oxford edition (vols i and ii) and in the Longman edition (vol. i). Readers need all the help they can get with Sordello, and the extensive annotation in the Longman edition in particular provides the best possible entrance into the poem’s complexities. The critical treatments in Tucker (1980) and Ryals (1983) are excellent. Ryals sharpened and improved his readings in The Life of Robert Browning (1993): for Pauline see pp. 11-20, for Paracelsus pp. 24-32, and for Sordello pp. 41-55. These accounts are also good places to start reading.