Finding a Form for Modern Love: The Marriage of Form and Content in George Meredith's Modern Love

Natasha Moore


There are few aspects of George Meredith's 1862 sonnet sequence 'Modern Love' that have not proved controversial in the 150 years of its reception history. The spillage of its individual sonnets from the customary fourteen to sixteen lines, however, has been perhaps the least controversial of the poet's choices in this startlingly modern poem. This article reassesses the significance of the sonnet form in 'Modern Love', exploring the apparent antagonism between form and content in a sonnet sequence that chronicles the breakdown of a middle-class Victorian marriage, and discovering some surprising correspondences between the conventions of the sonnet form and the poem's highly novelistic subject matter.

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