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The Self and the Sonnet


Summary of "The Sonnet" by Marina Spiazzi, Marina Tavella, and Margaret Layton


"The Sonnet" is a comprehensive guide to the sonnet form of poetry, detailing its characteristics, history, and variations. Authored by Marina Spiazzi, Marina Tavella, and Margaret Layton, the book delves into the intricacies of this poetic structure, highlighting its enduring influence in literature.

Main Characteristics of Sonnets

  • Form: A 14-line poem in iambic pentameter.
  • Rhyme Scheme: A structured pattern, varying with different types of sonnets.
  • Origin: Invented by Iacopo da Lentini in the 13th century, introduced to England by Sir Thomas Wyatt.

Types of Sonnets

  1. Petrarchan Sonnet

    • Structure: An octave (ABBAABBA) followed by a sestet (CDECDE or CDCDCD).
    • Function of Octave: Presents a problem, desire, reality reflection, or a conflict-inducing situation.
    • Function of Sestet: Offers a commentary or solution to the problem introduced in the octave.
    • Example: Sir Thomas Wyatt's "The Lively Sparks".
  2. Shakespearean Sonnet

    • Structure: Three quatrains (ABAB CDCD EFEF) and a final couplet (GG).
    • Function of Quatrains: Each quatrain introduces or complicates an idea or problem.
    • Function of Couplet: Resolves or summarizes the problem or idea.
    • Example: William Shakespeare's Sonnet 138.

Comparative Analysis

  • Petrarchan Sonnet:

    • Divided into two sections: an octave and a sestet.
    • The octave introduces a problem, and the sestet resolves or clarifies it.
    • Rhyme scheme: ABBAABBA for the octave; CDECDE or CDCDEE for the sestet.
  • Shakespearean Sonnet:

    • Consists of four sections: three quatrains and a couplet.
    • Each quatrain presents a problem, with the couplet offering a resolution.
    • Rhyme scheme: ABAB CDCD EFEF for the quatrains; GG for the couplet.

This summary provides a clear understanding of the sonnet form, its types, and their unique characteristics, as presented in "The Sonnet" by Spiazzi, Tavella, and Layton.