The Sonnet provides a comprehensive study of one of the oldest and most popular forms of poetry, widely used by Shakespeare, Milton and Wordsworth, and still used today by poets such as Seamus Heaney, Tony Harrison and Carol Ann Duffy. This book traces the development of the sonnet from its origins in medieval Italy to its widespread acceptance in modern Britain, Ireland and America. It shows how the sonnet emerges from the aristocratic courtly centres of Renaissance Europe and gradually becomes the chosen form of radical political poets such as Milton. The book draws on detailed critical analysis of some of the best-known sonnets written in English to explain how the sonnet functions as a poetic form, and it argues that the flexibility and versatility of the sonnet have given it a special place in literary history and tradition.
Stephen Regan is a Lecturer in Modern Poetry at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is the founding editor of The Year s Work in Critical and Cultural Theory (Blackwell) and the editor of The Politics of Pleasure: Aesthetics and Cultural Theory (Open University Press, 1992). He has also edited The Eagleton Reader (Blackwell, 1998). Among his publications on twentieth-century poetry are Philip Larkin (Macmillan, 1992) and the New Casebook on Larkin (1997). His most recent book is The Nineteenth-Century Novel: A Critical Reader (Routledge, 2001).
Introduction; 1. The Renaissance; 2. Shakespeare; 3. Milton; 4. The Romantic Revival of the Sonnet; 5. Victorian Sonnet Sequences; 6. The Irish Sonnet; 7. The American Sonnet; 8. The Modern Sonnet; Conclusion