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A History of the Sonnet in England: "A little world made cunningly"

Erscheinungsjahr: 2021

“My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun” – “Death! be not proud, ?” – “If I should die, think only this of me” Even occasional readers of English poetry will probably have heard these lines before, and many poetry-lovers will recognize them as the opening lines of sonnets. Indeed, many of the best-known poems in English are sonnets, and they are probably the most frequently anthologized poetic form in English. Although not all sonnets are great poetry, they have an unwavering fascination for their readers and, to adapt a line by John Donne, can even be “a little world made cunningly” (i.e., skilfully, cleverly, knowingly). That little world is explored by Jochen Petzold in great detail, wherefore this book, unlike other histories of English literature, focusses exclusively on the sonnet. Besides a few examples from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland this book charts the history of the sonnet in England, from the arrival of the sonnet in English culture in the sixteenth century to developments in the twenty-first century. Focussing mainly on sonnet sequences, it covers not only the ‘big names’ of English sonneteering like William Shakespeare, John Donne, and Rupert Brooke, quoted above, but also introduces its readers to lesser-known poets and their work. The sonnet sequences and individual sonnets are discussed as case studies which provide accessible readings, whereby the book is recommended for experts as in-depth studies as well as for fans of English poetry as a solid basis.

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