About the author: Morton D. Rich, an associate professor of English at Montclair State University, teaches courses in poetry, autobiography, and creative nonfiction and writes in several genres. He received his PhD from New York University.
2000 0-7734-7777-2 This volume uniquely combines syntax analysis and suprasegmental phoneme analysis of tape-recorded performances of sonnets. What sets this study apart from other works on literary tone is that it dramatically diminishes the problem of subjectivity. Before this work, attempts to name something that was felt generated terminology and definitions that were no more illuminating than the terms themselves. The study avoids the problem by recasting the question as one concerning tonal shifts, specifically those that occur at the volta or voltas of sonnets. Syntax analysis is an objective tool that allows for independent verification; and suprasegmental phoneme analysis allows sufficient verification to be a valuable adjunct to syntax analysis. When these tools are used together, voltas and, therefore, tonal shifts can be located grammatically by the reader, and all the other formal elements of the sonnet, whether Elizabethan, Petrarchan, or hybrid, become more pronounced. Through this method, original interpretations emerge in ways that are not likely to be otherwise obtained. This study enriches our understanding of voltas and sonnets, and emphasizes the value of syntax analysis in literary studies.