In 1870, Dante Gabriel Rossetti published the first version of his sonnet sequence The House of Life. The next thirty years saw the greatest flourishing of the sonnet sequence since the 1590s. John Holmes's carefully researched and eloquent study illuminates how leading sonneteers, including the Rossettis, John Addington Symonds, Wilfrid Blunt and Augusta Webster, and their early twentieth-century successors Rosa Newmarch and Rupert Brooke, addressed the urgent questions of selfhood, religious belief and doubt, and sexual and national identity which troubled late Victorian England. Drawing on the heritage of the sonnet sequence, the poetic self-portraits they created are unsurpassed in their subtlety, complexity, courage, and honesty.
Contents: Preface; Introduction: Rossetti, the sonnet sequence and the late Victorian self; Dante Gabriel Rossetti's inclusiveness: method and meaning in The House of Life; The sons of Gabriel; Christina Rossetti replies: Monna Innominata and Later Life; From sexuality to sexualities: Marzials, Barlow, Blunt and Symonds; Female identity in transition: Gregory, Webster and Newmarch; Structures of the self: dialectic and myth in John Addington Symonds's Animi Figura; From Rossetti to Rupert Brooke: the self and the nation; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.
About the Author: Dr. John Holmes is Lecturer at the School of English and American Literature, University of Reading, UK.
Reviews: 'Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Late Victorian Sonnet Sequence is a probing study of an important and understudied late-Victorian poetic tradition, in which John Holmes demonstrates the importance of the Rossettis as models for later writers' examination of sexuality and uses of sonnet sequences to express homoerotic as well as heterosexual sentiments—Augusta Gregory's poignant poetic expressions of love for Wilfred Scawen Blunt, for example, and Rosa Newmarch's inditement of her love for a married friend in her sequence Horae Amoris.' Florence Boos, Professor of English, University of Iowa
'... a solid and well-documented case for the importance of Rossetti...' TLS
‘… provides a fascinating account of poets and poems which have been almost entirely forgotten… by recovering their works and setting them in the context of so many other Rossetti-inspired sonnet sequences, Homes enriches our understanding of the whole field of fin-de-siècle poetry.’ The Year's Work in English Studies
‘It is exhilarating to encounter such a wealth of material and John Holmes should be warmly congratulated for bringing such a rich collection of poetry back into view and for his thorough, well-informed, and insightful commentaries and contextualizations… Holmes's book is an excellent contribution to the critical literature on Rossetti and on late Victorian sonnet sequences, and deserves to be widely read.’
Modern Language Review
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