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Shakespeare's Sonnets [Paperback]

William Shakespeare , Professor Stephen Booth
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 10 1980 0300024959 978-0300024951 New edition
This new edition focuses on the Sonnets as poetry - sometimes strikingly individual poems, but often subtly interlinked in thematic, imagistic and other groupings. Gwynne Evans and Anthony Hecht also address the many questions that cast a veil of mystery over the genesis of the Sonnets: to what extent are they autobiographical? What is the nature of the 'love', strongly expressed, between the 'poet', the 'youth' and the 'Dark Lady'? Can they, apart from the poet, be identified? Who is the 'rival poet'? When were the Sonnets written and in what order? What were the circumstances surrounding their publication?

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From School Library Journal

Grade 9-Up The simplicity and elegance of Shakespeare's lyric poetry is apparent in this audio rendition. All 154 sonnets are read in order, each one identified by its number which corresponds with the CD track number, making it easy to locate a particular choice. This form of poetry is characterized by 14 lines of rhymed, iambic pentameter in a scheme of three quatrains followed by a couplet. British narrator, David Butler, reads the sonnets as the form dictates, recognizing the endstops and adjusting his tone to the turn of the couplet. His voice is liltingly romantic with a limited range of emotion. In an afterward, Butler explains how the first 126 sonnets are addressed to a young man, in general, and the last two addressed to Cupid. The "dark lady" of the other sonnets is a mystery as is the person or patron for whom the collection was written. This information is fascinating, and students would benefit by listening to it first. There is no pause or analysis between sonnets and no accompanying text, suggesting that teachers will best use the CDs as an audio reference. Shakespeare's well-loved verse is in an ideal format for teachers to use as a class resource.
Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Since we will never hear tapes of Keats or Shakespeare reading, and several recordings by actors exist (e.g., John Keats: Selected Poems, Blackstone Audio, 1993; Sonnets by William Shakespeare, Recorded Bks., 1990), we must judge these tapes by the actors' performances. In John Keats: Poems, Douglas Dodge modulates his voice beautifully to capture the slightly varied emotions of many poems. This well-edited recording contains Keats's most famous works: "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," "The Eve of St. Agnes," "Ode to a Nightingale," "On a Grecian Urn," along with many lesser-known short poems such as "To Mrs. Reynolds' Cat" that exhibit the poet's more fanciful side. Reading all of Shakespeare's sonnets written between 1593 and 1601, actor Simon Callow conveys the dramatic potential not often recognizable in other recordings. With the exception of a few sonnets addressing the muse, anyone unfamiliar with Shakespeare's works could easily believe these were selected monologs from various plays. Pausing briefly between poems, Callow's tone shifts enough to create new characterizations for every sonnet. Both tapes are recommended for smaller collections and essential for larger ones.
Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, "Soho Weekly News," New York
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of life Sept. 17 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read these sonnets two a day over the summer, and I wish there were more than 154 of them so I could keep going into the fall. I think I'll pick up "The Tempest" next.
The poetry in this volume is beautiful, equisite and full of passion. What makes Shakespeare worth reading is the way he lets the world into his lines. His metaphors appeal deliciously to the senses, like a beam of sunlight through a high window in the afternoon, or the smell of a new cut lawn in the spring. Shakespeare's writing is immortal, not because a conspiracy of teachers got together and decided it should be, but because it is full of life, and nothing that is full of life can really ever die.
If you're not used to reading Elizabthean English or are put off by the thought of Shakespeare, this is a good place to start. This edition helpfully "translates" each sonnet into modern English on a facing page along with definitions for the more troubling words. Even with the help, I still don't think Shakespeare is all that easy to read. But anything you do in this world that makes you feel more passionate about life is a pretty good thing. If you give Shakespeare some of your time, he's bound to pay you back with plenty of interest.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent edition April 14 2000
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This edition of Shakespear's sonnets is all you need to read and understand the great Bard.
A very nice feature is the paraphrasing of the sonnets in contemporary English and a translation into ordinary language of the more difficult words.
The edition is a paperback small enough to be carried around to read during one's leisure.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of life Sept. 17 2000
By C. Fletcher - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I read these sonnets two a day over the summer, and I wish there were more than 154 of them so I could keep going into the fall. I think I'll pick up "The Tempest" next.
The poetry in this volume is beautiful, equisite and full of passion. What makes Shakespeare worth reading is the way he lets the world into his lines. His metaphors appeal deliciously to the senses, like a beam of sunlight through a high window in the afternoon, or the smell of a new cut lawn in the spring. Shakespeare's writing is immortal, not because a conspiracy of teachers got together and decided it should be, but because it is full of life, and nothing that is full of life can really ever die.
If you're not used to reading Elizabthean English or are put off by the thought of Shakespeare, this is a good place to start. This edition helpfully "translates" each sonnet into modern English on a facing page along with definitions for the more troubling words. Even with the help, I still don't think Shakespeare is all that easy to read. But anything you do in this world that makes you feel more passionate about life is a pretty good thing. If you give Shakespeare some of your time, he's bound to pay you back with plenty of interest.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent edition May 26 2006
By Brighton Funny - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I recently used the Arden edition of the Sonnets in a graduate level course on Renaissance literature. It's useful, too, to have Helen Vendler's "Art of the Sonnet," as well as the Penguin edition (fewer notes than the Arden). Quite simply, the Arden excels in the scholarly apparatus. Also, for a concise, readable supplement, include Greenblatt's "Will in the World" (the chapter on the sonnets). But for a close study of the sonnets, if you need a single edition, Arden is terrific.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ardens are Fantastic Sept. 11 2005
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The secondary source material found in the appendices, the fantastic footnotes, the capacioius introductions, the big clear typeface, the textual editing decisions, all make the Ardens the best single-volume Shakespeares by a long shot. The rest pale by comparison.

The only drawback, god forgive this y-chromosomed curmudgeon, that I can see in this particular Arden is that the editor, Katherine Duncan-Jones, often tends to lean a bit too far to the left, indulging into too much gender politic-ing.

Duncan-Jones also spends a quite a bit of time arguing in a rather extended manner for composition dates that are self-consciously 'provocative' and seem to be much too speculative for an introduction.

One could match this with Booth's version, which by comparison seems perhaps a touch more shallow and hidebound-- but more solid, and get a nice complimentary set of typefaces and editorial views that would balance out nicely, I would suspect.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Introduction is worth the price of the book, ten times the price Feb. 6 2007
By John - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Ms. Duncan-Jones' Introduction is an extraordinary example of scholarship. To say that the Sonnets have been controversial throughout the time since their publication is a mild understatement. Ms. Duncan-Jones casts a brilliant and unwavering spotlight on these controversies and resolves them.

Any serious student of Shakespeare must read this Introduction.

If there is a failing in the book, it is in the actual footnotes to the Sonnets themselves. But in the context of Booth's footnotes, for example, this failing is insignificant. Anyone who wants a line-by-line exegesis of the Sonnets has many resources available.

Go get this book and read the Introduction!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Of sugar and spice April 20 2010
By Jon Chambers - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Arden's third series illuminates the continually-shifting priorities of the moment as well as the Shakespearean texts themselves. Katherine Duncan-Jones devotes less space to such arcane matters as the practices of the Jacobean printing house and relatively more to what we now consider to be all-important: the sonnets, their meaning and literary significance. She considers that although some sonnets were obviously written before Meres's first mention of them in 1598 ('sugred Sonnets among his private friends') most were the products of the mature, Jacobean Shakespeare - hence their often knotty complexity and their relatively bitter, 'salty' tone. It is an unconventional view, like many others in this radically different edition.

By any account, this is an erudite, thoroughly researched and thoroughly readable edition with sonnet-by-sonnet annotations that don't assume undue expertise. Unlike previous Arden editions, therefore, this third series issue is ideal for readers wanting an in-depth and accessible analysis of poems that have long had the reputation of being difficult ('laboured perplexities', in the words of the C18 Shakespeare scholar, George Steevens).

Like the sonnets themselves, Duncan-Jones is often highly ingenious. Certain sonnets she considers numerologically significant. She detects a 'strongly misogynistic bias' throughout the sequence. Even those sonnets addressed to a female (ie 127-54) arouse her suspicions that the speaker has a male audience in mind as he exhibits a strong distaste for the female form generally and for 'the negative connotations of menstruation' in particular. These suspicions are strengthened on realising that the total number of these 'Dark Lady' sonnets is 28 - one for each day of the lunar cycle. (Duncan-Jones is the first to draw our attention to this detail.) Other numerical correspondences are more literary. The great central sequence (18-126) comprises 108 sonnets, thereby matching Sidney's collection. Sonnet 12, meanwhile, alludes to the number of hours in a day; 60 to hour/'our minutes'; 70 (threescore and ten) is followed by the sonnet which begins 'No longer mourn for me when I am dead'; 144 is concerned with the 'gross'-ness of his evil angel, and so on. Whether or not such decoding has unearthed Shakespeare's original intentions, there is no doubt that the sonnets were written for a highly sophisticated literary culture that, unlike ours, 'knew the rules' governing cryptic conceits.

But if the sonnets themselves aren't sufficiently full of puzzles, here's another: in her Preface, Duncan-Jones claims to have 'avoided' John Kerrigan's 1986 Penguin edition, although 'excellent in its subtlety and scholarship', for fear of over-reliance. Yet apart from both agreeing that 'A Lover's Complaint' is an integral part of the overall scheme (sonnets-complaint, following Samuel Daniel's model, Delia) their rival editions seem poles apart. He (JK) guards against using the sonnets to speculate about Shakespeare the man and is dismissive of such fantasies and 'crackpot theories'. She (KD-J) considers the sequence's title, 'Shakespeare's Sonnets', of paramount importance, and one, moreover, that invites, and even positively insists upon, autobiographical inference. She in turn is dismissive of editors and critics who avoid confronting the poems' homoeroticism by speaking, for example, of the cult of 'comradely affection in literature' (Kerrigan). Her verdict on such thoughts: 'Sidney Lee lives!' (Lee being a critic who, immediately after Oscar Wilde's imprisonment, sought to conceal the Sonnets' potentially explosive homoeroticism. For respectable Victorians, the Sonnets were overspiced.) So much for excellence, subtle scholarship and potential over-reliance.

Combative, therefore, as well as eloquent, this edition doesn't so much fence-sit as hurdle them full-on. Whether you agree with Duncan-Jones's stance or not, there's no denying that her case is vigorously pursued and her evidence presented with skill. Admirably, her edition preserves the arrangement of the 1609 Quarto together with much of its spelling and punctuation on the grounds that excessive modernising of spelling results in blurring potential double meanings. And punctuation? Her edition is the first modern one to restore the empty parentheses at the end of the six-couplet 'Sonnet' 126. The two pairs of brackets, she believes, represent the graves awaiting the bodies of poet and 'lovely Boy'.

Definitely not the last words on the Sonnets. But some of the more fascinating, nonetheless.
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