15 DECEMBER 1950, Page 18

What is a Sonnet?

SIR,—In judging the sonnets in Competition No. 41, Mr. Guy Kendall writes: "The Meredithian •16-line sonnet did not appear." What is the Meredithian sonnet ? Meredith wrote sonnets, one of them perhaps in the category of the greatest, but they consisted of fourteen lines, and although he wrote a sequence of sixteen-line poems under the title "Modern Love" he did not call them what they were not—sonnets. May I point out that wfietlier they are called the Petrarchan, the Spenserian, the Shakespearian, the Miltonic or the contemporary type, it has been always held that sonnets in English should contain fourteen lines, neither more nor less.

Wittrall respect to Mr. Kendall, his suggestion is an innovation which has no foundation in fact, but he is not the first critic to err in this matter as one well-known writer ha.L.stated that "In Memoriam" is made up

of a number of linked sonnet!.—Yours faithfully, W. J. McComsE. 16 Westbourne Street. W.2.