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The Sonnets of William Shakespeare by…
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The Sonnets of William Shakespeare (edition 1895)

by William Shakespeare

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7,84962937 (4.26)3 / 107
The New Cambridge Shakespeare appeals to students worldwide for its up-to-date scholarship and emphasis on performance. The series features line-by-line commentaries and textual notes on the plays and poems. Introductions are regularly refreshed with accounts of new critical, stage and screen interpretations. For this second edition of The Sonnets, Stephen Orgel has written a new introduction to Shakespeare's best-loved and most widely read poems. In a series of focused readings he probes the sonnets' sexual and temperamental ambiguity as well as their complex textual history, and explores the difficulties editors face when modernising the spelling, punctuation and layout of the 1609 quarto. Orgel reminds us that the order in which the sonnets were composed bears no relation to the order in which they appear in the quarto and he warns against reading them biographically. This edition retains the text prepared by G. Blakemore Evans, together with his notes and commentary.… (more)
Member:JoyfulMommy07
Title:The Sonnets of William Shakespeare
Authors:William Shakespeare
Info:Birmingham : Napier, 1895.
Collections:Your library
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The Sonnets by William Shakespeare

  1. 20
    An Essay on Shakespeare's Sonnets by Stephen Booth (davidcla)
    davidcla: If you really, really get into the Sonnets, try this edition, which has the most complete and oddest notes. This edition also contains a facsimile of the 1609 text.
  2. 00
    Such Is My Love: A Study of Shakespeare's Sonnets by Joseph Pequigney (Jakujin)
  3. 00
    Love's Fire: Seven New Plays Inspired By Seven Shakespearean Sonnets by Acting Co. (TheLittlePhrase)
  4. 113
    Twilight / New Moon / Eclipse / Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer (LCoale1)
    LCoale1: The emotions of Edward, Bella, and Jacob seem to come straight from these sonnets and, surprisingly, really helped me to understand Shakespeare's emotions and messages. Although the writing styles are about as different as can be, the themes are nearly identical - I swear I found paraphrases of lines of Shakespeare used as thoughts and dialogue in Breaking Dawn, specifically.… (more)
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English (55)  Dutch (2)  Italian (1)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (62)
Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
37. The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
editor: Stephen Orgel, with introduction by John Hollander (1961, 1970, 2001)
published: originally 1609. This edition says 2001 but has a 2010 reference.
format: 193-page Pelican Shakespeare paperback
acquired: 2019 (with kidzdoc, at the Joseph Fox in Philadelphia, which closed earlier this year)
read: Jul 3 – Aug 19 time reading: 12:18, 3.8 mpp
rating: 5
genre/style: Classic poetry theme: Shakespeare
about the author: April 23, 1564 – April 23, 1616

-- I read these along with another edition: All the Sonnets of Shakespeare edited by Paul Edmondson & Stanley Wells]

I read these as a group read on Litsy, at a pace of 22 sonnets a weak, or roughly 3 a day. They are really difficult to read. They take time, and you have to read them a few times, just to get the surface meaning. It's nothing like his plays, which are all light fun in comparison. For perspective, we usually at have 10-15 people in our group reads, but only four of us were really active for these. My feeling on finishing them was akin to having just finished a marathon. I was happy I made it. Then I went back and read the first 126 poems again, but rapidly, getting a different take. But both ways were rewarding.

They‘re difficult, but as you work through them they do open themselves up with so much language play. They are full of lines and stanza's and phrases that strike and stun and that you want to remember, especially once they click. They stretch the reader's mindset. And they reward re-reading. Each visit seems to give a different poem, and a different experience, even as favorite lines reward with recognition.

My favorite stanzas are those that open Sonnets 60 & 65, ones I would like to etch into memory. Sonnet 60 opens on the relentless ripples and their implications for wearing time:

Like as the waves make towards the pebbl'd shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end;
Each changing place with that which goes before,
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.


(Full sonnet here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45095/sonnet-60-like-as-the-waves-make-to... )

Sonnet 65 opens on how the world destroys those impractical fragile beautiful things we love:

Since brass, nor stone, nor earth, nor boundless sea
But sad mortality o’er-sways their power,
How with this rage shall beauty hold a plea,
Whose action is no stronger than a flower?


(Full sonnet here: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/50646/sonnet-65-since-brass-nor-stone-nor... )

There is also a curious thing about the subject. I don't normally think about the nature of Shakespearean all-male theatre-crews off stage. Surely they must have been a draw to gay men. I just never thought about it with Shakespeare. (Are there any gay characters in his plays...other than the scene Coriolanus?) Anyway, these are mostly gay poems. This was a thing in 1590's London--both Petrarchan sonnets and gay sonnets were in vogue. So Shakespeare was writing to fashion. But I never thought of him as gay, and I can't picture the author of these poems as straight. So... it requires some mental adjusting.

Another curious thing is that Shakespeare may not have been involved in the 1609 publication of these sonnets. Which means we have to wonder how private these were, and also about their ordering. There is a narrative here. A man chides another man, a youth, about finding a woman and having children to perpetuate his line, or, as the sonnets suggest, his youth. Then Sonnet 18 comes, the most famous. "Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?" And it's here that it comes clear our writer is in love with this young man. Sonnets 18-126 go through a whole assortment of love's emotions - direct love, being apart, staying awake all night, jealousy, and then surprisingly asking for forgiveness, and what might be construed as a breakup. Within are rants on time and death and public reputation and criticism. It is the heart of this collections and, both in sum and in parts, really beautiful, but not simply. The passive-aggressive string is raw. Sonnets 127-152 are the dark lady sonnets. They are anti-Petrarchan. This lady is described as unattractive, impure, and unfaithful. (I imagined a common prostitute). Also these poems are much more difficult to follow. The collection closes with two playful Greek references to the flame of Love run amok.

The Pelican Edition

I like the Pelican edition. It's minimalist, with an interesting but not very helpful intro. The notes were curt, but smart and insightful. It doesn‘t have any real analysis.

So the Sonnets have a different appeal from Shakespeare's plays. They are not for the faint of heart. They do reward, and they reward re-reading and re-reading more. Recommended for the brave.

2022
https://www.librarything.com/topic/342768#7923261 ( )
  dchaikin | Sep 4, 2022 |
A difficult art form, and laid out by a master. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Mar 17, 2022 |
Pretty good for an amateur. ( )
  invisiblecityzen | Mar 13, 2022 |
I enjoy listening to the poetry ( )
  nx74defiant | Feb 15, 2022 |
Don Paterson says in his excellent introduction to his New Commentary that it is impossible to read all the sonnets in one sitting (there are 154). You would certainly need super human powers of concentration to attempt the task and I am not sure the general reader would get much from it as many of them are not easy to read. I read them over a period of a month checking my understanding of them with the commentaries of Katherine Duncan-Jones, Don Paterson and Stephen Booth. I probably read each sonnet 5 or 6 times and at least once out loud, before I moved onto the next one. In many anthologies of English poetry one or two of the sonnets will appear and can be enjoyed as stand alone items. However if you are going to read them all then reading them in the order of publication will enable you to get a feel for the story behind the poems and more importantly there are many instances of sonnets following on from previous ones, so that it is almost like reading a double sonnet.

The 154 sonnets plus A Lovers Complaint were printed in 1609 under the title of SHAKE-SPEARES Sonnets, never before imprinted it says, although this was not quite true as a couple of them had appeared in a 1598 quarto. There are not many clues as to when WS wrote the sonnets and critical analysis has ranged from 1582 to 1609. It would seem that WS himself oversaw the 1609 printed version, probably collecting together and organising them into a form for publication. 1609 was a year when London was again badly hit by the plague and theatres would have been closed.

The first 17 sonnets have been labelled the procreation sonnets. The speaker gives advice to an attractive young man to find himself a wife in order to father children, to keep his family line in existence and to pass on his own marvellous qualities to his children. By the time we reach sonnet 18 the speaker has fallen in love with the young man and the bulk of the collection details the trials and tribulations of that love affair. Sonnet 127 then starts the story of the speakers infatuation with the dark lady. These are misogynistic and bitter in tone and take us to sonnet 152. The last two sonnets are an improvisation on a Greek epigram and serve to lighten the tone if nothing else. Don Paterson claims the sonnets to be:

They are alternately beautiful, maddening, brutally repetitive, enigmatic, sweet, prophetic, pathetic, bathetic, triumphant, trite, wildly original, contorted, screamed, mumbled, plain-speaking, bewildering, offensive, disarming and utterly heartbreaking.

Patersons description as utterly heartbreaking, puts him fairly and squarely into the camp of those critics who think that the speaker in the poems is WS himself and that at least some of the poems are written from personal experience. If this is the case then WS was clearly homosexual or bisexual, which would account for the fact that his sonnet collection was not universally liked following the initial publication. There are examples of analysis where critics tie themselves into knots trying to prove that WS was heterosexual.

Collections of love sonnets were very much in vogue during the 1590's. Sir Philip Sidney's Astrophil and Stella published in 1591 set the bar high with his 108 sonnets describing a seemingly unrequited affair with a noble lady he referred to as Stella. The collection took inspiration from the Italian Poet Petrarch whose poems worshipped at the altar of his Laura, but Sidney created an atmosphere all of his own without breaking drastically the conventions of love sonneteering. Collections by Samuel Daniel (Delia) Henry Constable (Diana), Thomas Lodge (Philis), Giles Fletcher (Philis) soon followed, but these clung steadfastly to the conventional feel of courtly love poetry and have little interest for the modern reader. Shakespeare after mocking the love sonneteers in his plays then went on to publish his own collection which stood the conventional Petrarchan collection of love poetry on its head. The subjects of his poems were an unnamed man and an unnamed women. Some of the poems to the Young Man (YM) are indeed passionate love poems, with clear indication that there was sexual activity between the two of them. The same applies to the Dark Lady (DL) but here the speaker is cursing his infatuation and accusing her of wilful promiscuity. This is far removed from the respectful courtly love poetry, which also looked to spiritual enlightenment, as practised by most of his contemporaries. Having said that WS stood the Petrarchan conventions on their head: there are still a number of his sonnets that are as conventional as previous collections and address the same themes, but his condensed lines serve to give most of these a new life.

I suppose the bad news to approaching these sonnets is that they have not become easier to read the further we have moved away from the Elizabethan age. Poems written over 425 years ago with all the conventions and context of that era and changes to the language are going to make them harder to understand. The good news is that critical editions similar to the ones reviewed here are available to help the reader through. The hard work of tracking down the references, of pointing out anomalies, of putting the poems in the context of when they were written has all been done. I can imagine someone picking up the sonnets for the first time and looking at sonnet 1

Sonnet 1

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Thou that art now the world's fresh ornament
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content
And, tender churl, makest waste in niggarding.
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world's due, by the grave and thee.


This might put a few people off and most of us will need some help through some contorted syntax. So lets see how our three editors deal with it:

Katherine Duncan-Jones gives a brief summary of the subject of the poem

"The sonnet sets out a eugenic proposition: the most excellent examples of natural beings are under an obligation to reproduce themselves. But the addressee, to whom this rule applies is narcissistically dedicated to self love, allowing his beauty to go to waste by hoarding it up"

She then goes through the poem giving explanations to difficult words and phrases. This along with her general introduction to the sonnets where she explains that the first 17 sonnets are aimed at giving advice to a young man on issues around procreation are enough to get us through the poetry. She will also point out where she thinks that an idea is awkwardly expressed. However her comments are mostly devoid of her opinions and are neutral in most respects. Some readers might find this an advantage.

Don Paterson first reminds us that this is the first of 17 poems which basically say the same thing (he has also covered the idea of procreation in his introduction) and then says this about the subject of the poem;

"The argument here runs something like: ‘We want the lovely things to breed and perpetuate themselves, so that they don’t disappear from the earth. You’re a lovely thing yourself – but alas, you’re also a preening narcissist, and instead of spreading the love, you hoard yourself. Oh – you’re jack-the-lad right now, you’re the one-and-only, you’re gilded youth incarnate, you are; but you’ve sunk your happiness into your own youth [Within thine own bud buriest thy content]. If you don’t have some sympathy for the world, you’ll be remembered as the guy who consumed himself in self-love, and whom the grave ate without the world seeing any return on its investment in you."

He then goes on to give his opinion of the first 17 poems and points out the clever poetical tricks that he sees in this poem and how it adds to the meaning and our enjoyment. A different style and in some ways more informative; if you do not mind the less reverent approach.

Stephen Booth does not tell us anything about the subject of the poem he just gets down to the nitty gritty of analysing the words and phrases and examining the metaphors that WS has used and what these would have communicated to his contemporary readers. It is scholarly work and sometimes taken too extreme I feel.

Katherine Duncan-Jones gives a fulsome introduction which is in keeping with the Arden Shakespeare editions. She covers the history of their printing, surmises on evidence as to when they were written. She also covers the context with pointers to other love sonnet collections. She gives a brief rundown on the structure of sonnets. She also covers their reception through the ages. She points out the fact that much ink has been spilled in identifying the Young Man and the Dark Lady and then proceeds to spill more ink on the subject, but at least she doesn't go into the question of authorship too deeply.

Don Paterson gives us a lively introduction which as well as being informative gives the reader his experiences in tackling a re-reading of the sonnets. He is not afraid to express his opinions on the quality of the poetry and will show how various poetical effects work or don't work. For the more obscure sonnets he will give a line by line interpretation. His glosses on phrases and words are a little perfunctory, but this is not what he is about, his ides is to give the reader some lively information, which will be enough for the reader to enjoy the poem.

Both Katherine Duncan-Jones and Paterson refer to the work done by Stephen Booth and both are not afraid to disagree with him, although Paterson does this more than Duncan-Jones. Booth commentaries take up far more apace than the poems and can go into extraordinary detail. He hardly ever misses a sexual pun or innuendo and Paterson thinks he is a trifle obsessive in this respect. However as both of the other editors refer to Booth, it is handy to be able to have his original commentaries to hand.

Duncan-Jones and Paterson give us the sonnets with modern spelling, Duncan Junes commentaries sit on the page facing the poem while Paterson comment underneath each one. Booth gives us the sonnets first, both in original and modern spelling and his commentaries appear after the collection. The sonnets take up 128 pages and the commentaries 325 pages.

In my opinion Duncan-Jones's Arden edition is probably the go-to edition for facts, context and detail, however the lively enthusiasm and poetical insight of Don Paterson makes for a thrilling experience; to have him whispering in your ear (figuratively speaking), while you get to grips with the poetry. I put post-it notes on my favourite poems and found I had thirty so marked. In a collection of 154 poems there are going to be some you enjoy more than others. I would rate both Duncan-Jones edition and Patersons new commentary as 5 star reads; with the more pedestrian scholarship of Booth a four star read. ( )
2 vote baswood | Feb 11, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
I väntan på att experterna en dag avslöjar sanningen om ”the Dark Lady” och ”the Fair Youth” får vi vanliga läsare fortsätta att njuta av sonetternas tidlösa musik. Det blir lättare nu med Eva Ströms hjälp.
added by Jannes | editDagens nyheter, Leif Zern (Feb 24, 2011)
 
Det fenomenala med Shakespeare är hans förmåga att formulera sådana slitna tankar nytt och fräscht. Och Eva Ström hittar genomgående svenska motsvarigheter till hans kombinationer av komplicerad metaforik och raka utsagor.
 
Any way I can look at it, his achievement seems to me extraordinarily impressive.
added by davidcla | editNew York Review of Books, Frank Kermode (pay site) (Nov 5, 1970)
 
On going through the hundred and fifty-four of them, I find forty-nine which seem to me excellent throughout, a good number of the rest have one or two memorable lines, but there are also several which I can only read out of a sense of duty. For the inferior ones we have no right to condemn Shakespeare unless we are prepared to believe, a belief for which there is no evidence, that he prepared or intended them all to be published...

The sonnets addressed to the Dark Lady are concerned with that most humiliating of all erotic experiences, sexual infatuation —Venus toute entiere a sa proie attachee.

Simple lust is impersonal, that is to say the pursuer regards himself as a person but the object of his pursuit as a thing, to whose personal qualities, if she has any, he is indifferent, and, if he succeeds, he expects to be able to make a safe getaway as soon as he becomes bored. Sometimes, however, he gets trapped. Instead of becoming bored, he becomes sexually obsessed, and the girl, instead of conveniently remaining an object, becomes a real person to him, but a person whom he not only does not love, but actively dislikes.

No other poet, not even Catullus, has described the anguish, self-contempt, and rage produced by this unfortunate condition so well as Shakespeare in some of these sonnets, 141, for example, “In faith I do not love thee with my eyes,” or 151, “Love is too young to know what conscience is.”
added by SnootyBaronet | editNew York Review of Books, W. H. Auden
 

» Add other authors (154 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shakespeare, Williamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Alden, Raymond MacdonaldEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Angelo, ValentiIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Appelbaum, StanleyEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Auden, W. H.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Auld, WilliamTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ballou, Robert OlesonIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Booth, StephenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brooke, C. F. TuckerEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bush, DouglasEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Campbell, AliCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Duncan-Jones, KatherineEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Edmondson, PaulEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gollancz, IsraelEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harbage, AlfredEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hollander, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kerrigan, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mosher, Thomas B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mowat, Barbara A.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Orgel, StephenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Penney, IanIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reed, Edward BlissEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rolfe, William J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rollins, Hyder EdwardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seymour-Smith, MartinEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Simonsuuri, KirstiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ström, EvaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Verstegen, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilson, John DoverEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wright, Louis B.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
Dedication
TO THE ONLIE BEGETTER OF

THESE INSUING SONNETS

Mr. W. H., ALL HAPPINESSE

AND THAT ETERNITIE

PROMISED

BY

OUR EVER-LIVING POET

WISHETH

THE WELL-WISHING

ADVENTURER IN

SETTING

FORTH

T. T.
First words
From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty's rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decrease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou, contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed'st thy light's flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thyself thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel.
Quotations
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
This work contains all the 154 sonnets and no other fiction from Shakespeare. Please do not combine with selections of poems or work that contain plays or other poems.

Please do not combine Sonnets (No Fear Shakespeare) with Sonnets.
This is the Shakespeare Bookshop edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets, written by Shakespeare and edited by Paul Edmondson. It should not be combined with Edmondson's critical study which is also entitled Shakespeare's Sonnets.
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Information from the German Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
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The New Cambridge Shakespeare appeals to students worldwide for its up-to-date scholarship and emphasis on performance. The series features line-by-line commentaries and textual notes on the plays and poems. Introductions are regularly refreshed with accounts of new critical, stage and screen interpretations. For this second edition of The Sonnets, Stephen Orgel has written a new introduction to Shakespeare's best-loved and most widely read poems. In a series of focused readings he probes the sonnets' sexual and temperamental ambiguity as well as their complex textual history, and explores the difficulties editors face when modernising the spelling, punctuation and layout of the 1609 quarto. Orgel reminds us that the order in which the sonnets were composed bears no relation to the order in which they appear in the quarto and he warns against reading them biographically. This edition retains the text prepared by G. Blakemore Evans, together with his notes and commentary.

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Penguin Australia

3 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140714537, 014600373X, 0141045388

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2 editions of this book were published by Yale University Press.

Editions: 0300085060, 0300024959

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