Covering an extensive range of poets, this is the first comprehensive study of the sonnet from the Renaissance to the present. It traces the development of the sonnet and explores why the sonnet is such an attractive form for writers and how it works in terms of shape and rhyme scheme.
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 centuries later 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 Professor of English at Durham University, where he is also Director of the Centre for Poetry and Poetics. He served as Head of Department at Durham from 2008 to 2011, and was a Visiting Research Fellow at Harvard University from 2011 to 2012. His publications include Irish Writing: An Anthology of Irish Literature in English 1789-1939 (Oxford University Press, 2004) and an edition of Esther Waters by the Irish novelist, George Moore (Oxford University Press, 2012). His essays on modern poetry have appeared in The Cambridge History of English Poetry (2010), The Cambridge Companion to Twentieth-Century English Poetry (2008), and The Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Poetry (2012). He is co-editor, with Andrew Motion, of the Penguin Book of Elegy.