Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 5: No 1) >> Martin Faber and Porphyria's Lover >> Page 12

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Page 12

Secondary Scholarship | 1997
James E. Kibler
The narrator of Robert Browning's "Porphyria's Lover," in his cold and
meticulous telling of how he strangled his lover, is very reminiscent of Simms's
Martin Faber, when he casually, meticulously narrates how he strangled his love.
Both narrations have similar chilling, startling effects on the reader. Browning
wrote his famous monologue in 1834, the same year an English edition of Martin
Faber appeared in London from the press of John Limbird. "Porphyria's Lover"
was first published two years later (in 1836).
The possibility of a Simms influence on Browning should send researchers
hurrying to their nearest libraries. At the least, the fact that both Simms and
Browning had very similar interests in the criminal mind and in the abnormal
psychology of first-person narrators, at precisely the same time, is very significan
in itself. Simms's several reviews of Browning throughout his career contain
excellent critical insights. They reveal his good understanding and great
appreciation of his English contemporary. Browning and Simms were indeed in
many ways kindred spirits; and a comparative study should prove fruitful. The
Simms Review strongly encourages such a project.