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Title: Wordsworth's sonnet corpus
Author: Spratley, Peter Frederick
ISNI:       0000 0004 2671 4546
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2008
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The thesis is a study of Wordsworth and the sonnet. It is structured around detailed assessments of each 'type' of sonnet that Wordsworth wrote, but my overarching goal is to demarcate a sonnet corpus and place it in a position of eminence, and in so doing, gesture towards a re-evaluation of the poet's career, by positing an alternative to the traditional Prelude-centric view of his oeuvre. It has been customary, from influential critics such as Geoffrey Hartman onwards, to locate the familiar Wordsworthian ethos in the long poems and canonical Romantic lyrics, such as 'Tintern Abbey'. I argue that the large body of sonnets represents an alternate corpus, to be read both alongside, and counter to, the traditional interpretation of the career. The attempt is to encourage scholarship to rethink the poet's own metaphorical view of a 'gothic church' for his career, which has The Recluse as its primary body, and to reposition the sonnet form in that view, so that it may occupy a more prominent place. Wordsworth's sonnet groups are often overlooked by scholarship, or instead read out of context through unrepresentative anthologising. My thesis argues that the sonnets should not be read as subordinate to, or parasitic on, the longer work. I contend that the sonnets constitute a vital body of work in their own right. By reading the poet's career through his sonnets, a sense of continuity between the early and late Wordsworth is established, while at the same time, the familiar Wordsworthian ethos is present throughout. I also develop the standard interpretation of Miltonic inheritance, by suggesting that while Wordsworth was certainly influenced by Milton, he was also profoundly influenced in his sonnet writing by his contemporaries, including Charlotte Smith, William Lisle Bowles and Thomas Warton. I build on recent scholarship in this area, and offer a more extensive view, that sees Wordsworth appropriating and subverting the conventional sonnets of the late eighteenth century for his 'Miscellaneous Sonnets' and The River Duddon. My aim is to posit Wordsworth's sonnets as a corpus, and I argue that they occupy a prominent position in critical interpretations of the poet's career.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: PR English literature