Definitions

sonnet-sequence

Sonnet sequence

A sonnet sequence is a group of sonnets thematically unified to create a long work, although generally, unlike the stanza, each sonnet so connected can also be read as a meaningful separate unit.

The sonnet sequence was a very popular genre during the Renaissance, following the pattern of Petrarch. This article is about sonnet sequences as integrated wholes. For the form of individual sonnets, see Sonnet.

Sonnet sequences are typically closely based on Petrarch, either closely emulating his example or working against it. The subject is usually the speaker's unhappy love for a distant beloved, following the courtly love tradition of the troubadours, from whom the genre ultimately derived. An exception is Edmund Spenser's Amoretti, where the wooing is successful, and the sequence ends with an Epithalamion, a marriage song.

It should be noted, however, that although many sonnet sequences at least pretend to be autobiographical, the genre became a very stylised one, and most sonnet sequences are better approached as attempts to create an erotic persona in which wit and originality plays with the artificiality of the genre. Thus one could regard the emotions evoked to be as artificial as the conventions with which they are presented.

List of Italian sonnet sequences

List of English sonnet sequences

During the late 16th century and early 17th century a large number of sonnet sequences were written in England. The most notable are:

Other sonnet sequences include:

Notable later sequences

During the 19th and 20th centuries, the sonnet sequence returned to favour, although with a greater variety of subject matter.

See also

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