Dante Gabriel Rossetti and the Late Victorian Sonnet Sequence Sexuality, Belief and the Self
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.
'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...' Times Literary Supplement ’... 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