Lyric Self-Fashioning: Sonnet 35 as Formal Model

Philosophy and Literature 45 (1):224-248 (2021)
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Each of us is not just a set of actions, experiences, and plans but also a set of traits, capacities, and attitudes; we are as much our character as our life. And while story form can help unify a messy life, when it comes to a messy character, we may need something like the form of a poem. Could we model our self-conception, then, on a work like Sonnet 35? In finding deep-going unity—and even bittersweet beauty—beneath surface-level ambivalence, Sonnet 35 arguably offers a perfect formal model, pointing the way to a transfiguration, through art, of intractable internal conflict.

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Joshua Landy
Stanford University


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