Modern Love
  • Publication Date: December 30, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781554814831 / 1554814839
  • 104 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Modern Love

  • Publication Date: December 30, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781554814831 / 1554814839
  • 104 pages; 5½" x 8½"

The Victorian writer George Meredith completed Modern Love, his most famous poem, in the months following his wife’s death in 1861. The series of 16-line sonnets (a stanzaic form Meredith invented) depicts isolated scenes in an unhappy marriage as both partners take lovers. At the time, Meredith’s long poem was savaged by critics both for its style and for its “diseased” content. In this century, however, it has received increasingly favorable attention as an extraordinarily powerful exploration of the realities of Victorian marriage. Along with the text itself and an informative introduction, the editor provides a wide range of background materials to help set the work in its historical and literary context.


  • Modern Love

Modern Love

In Context

  • Meredith’s Poems
    • “Juggling Jerry” (1862)
    • “The Beggar’s Soliloquy” (1862)
    • “Ode to the Spirit of The Earth in Autumn” (1862)
    • “Lucifer in Starlight” (1883)
  • Contemporary Reviews
    • from Unsigned Review, Parthenon (1862)
    • from Unsigned Review, Athenaeum (1862)
    • from R.H. Hutton, The Spectator (1862)
    • from A.C. Swinburne, Letter to The Spectator (1862)
    • R.H. Hutton, The Spectator (1862)
    • from Unsigned Review, Westminster Review (1862)
    • from Unsigned Review, Saturday Review (1863)
    • from Arthur Symons, “Meredith’s Poetry,” Westminster Review (1887)
  • Gender Ideology
    • from Sarah Stickney Ellis, The Daughters of England: Their Position in Society, Character and Responsibilities (1842)
    • from Caroline Norton, English Laws for Women in the Nineteenth Century (1854)
    • from The Matrimonial Causes Act (1857)
    • from William Cobbett, Advice to Young Men, and (Incidentally) to Young Women, in the Middle and Higher Ranks of Life (1829/1862)
    • from J.S. Mill, On the Subjection of Women (1869)
  • Poetics
    • from J.S. Mill, “What is Poetry?” (1833)
    • from Matthew Arnold, “Preface” to Poems (1853)
    • from Arthur Hugh Clough, “Recent English Poetry: A Review of Several Volumes of Poems by Alexander Smith, Matthew Arnold, and Others” (1853)
    • from Gerald Massey, “Poetry—The Spasmodists” (1858)
    • from E.S. Dallas, The Gay Science (1866)
    • from George Meredith, “The Idea of Comedy and the Uses of the Comic Spirit” (1877)
    • from William Sharp, Sonnets of this Century (1886)
  • Images

Elisha Cohn is Associate Professor of English at Cornell University.