The Sonnet Sequence: A Study of Its Strategies

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Twayne Publishers, 1997 - 171 sayfa
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On May 19, 1348, Francis Petrarch, already one of Europe's most celebrated poets, learned of the death of his beloved Laura. From then until his own death in 1374, he devoted much of his life to composing sonnets in praise of her. The 366 poems that resulted from this labor of love became known as the Rime Sparse ("Scattered Poems"), the most famous of early sonnet sequences. In the seven centuries since Petrarch's Rime Sparse, the sonnet sequence has captured the attention of some of Europe's and America's greatest poets. Dante, Shakespeare, Donne, Barrett Browning, Rilke, and Berryman are some who have found in the genre "the locus of a quest for understanding the self". This engagement with the question of identity is a keynote of the sonnet sequence and one reason for its critical importance as a genre. Michael R. G. Spiller suggests that the persistence of this difficult literary form can be attributed in part to its cohesive progressive sequence that at the same time respects the integrity of its component sonnets. No other genre has provided this tension between the fragment and the whole. As Spiller illuminates in his concise exploration of the genre's development, each individual sonnet has a structure and dynamic that keeps it resistant to being reduced to a mere stanza of a longer work; yet sonnet sequences do cohere. Spiller analyzes how they relate and identifies four modes of sequences: formal, narrative, lyric, and philosophical. He explores each kind of linking, with attention paid to the popular topographical sequence (a subsequence to the philosophical) and emphasis on the lyric, as the most historically important. This book demonstrates Spiller's own theory of thesonnet sequence, using supportive close readings of a wide variety of important American and European works with English translations where appropriate. This is a theoretical framework for a genre that anticipated major elements of narrative fiction. Spiller skillfully traces the evolution of the form from the thirteenth to the twentieth centuries, and, by juxtaposing sequences from very different times, emphasizes generic continuities. Spiller creates an essential resource for students and scholars of English and European literature from the age of Dante to the modern era.

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The Sonnet and the Sequence
Chapter 2
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