In a series of representative case studies, Marianne Van Remoortel traces the development of the sonnet during intense moments of change and stability, continuity and conflict, from the early Romantic period to the end of the nineteenth century. Paying particular attention to the role of the popular press, which served as a venue of innovation and as a site of recruitment for aspiring authors, Van Remoortel redefines the scope of the genre, including the ways in which its development is intricately related to issues of gender. Among her subjects are the Della Cruscans and their primary critic William Gifford, the young Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his circle, Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets from the Portuguese, George Meredith's Modern Love, Dante Gabriel Rossetti's House of Life and Augusta Webster's Mother and Daughter. As women became a force to be reckoned with among the reading public and the writing community, the term 'sonnet' often operated as a satirical label that was not restricted to poetry adhering to the strict formalities of the genre. Van Remoortel's study, in its attentiveness to the sonnet's feminization during the late eighteenth century, offers important insights into the ways in which changing attitudes about gender and genre shaped critics' interpretations of the reception histories of nineteenth-century sonnet sequences.
'This book is a cogent, well-written, and valuable addition to sonnet studies... Van Remoortel carefully constructs a history of the sonnet that recontextualizes its gender dynamics.' New Books Online 19 ’... Van Remoortel’s writing is lively and descriptive...’ Times Literary Supplement '... the main route that Lives of the Sonnet takes through the genre proves so rewarding. Van Remoortel demonstrates, again and again, that the most coherent view of the nineteenth-century sonnet emerges only by accounting for the genre’s tremendous diversity. [...] Lives of the Sonnet emerges as a judicious and thoughtful guide, showing the reader how nineteenth-century sonneteers navigated this complex landscape.' Nineteenth-Century Gender Studies 'Lives of the Sonnet is rich with information about the marketing of nineteenth-century sonnets and offers helpful new methods of understanding the sonnet’s relationship to gender today.' Victorian Studies ’Lives of the Sonnet is a fascinating exposition that proposes a new literary history.’ BARS Review