A Companion to Shakespeare's Sonnets by Michael Schoenfeldt

By Michael Schoenfeldt

This Companion represents the myriad methods of pondering the extraordinary success of Shakespeare’s sonnets.

  • An authoritative reference consultant and prolonged advent to Shakespeare’s sonnets.
  • Contains greater than 20 newly-commissioned essays by means of either demonstrated and more youthful scholars.
  • Considers the shape, series, content material, literary context, modifying and printing of the sonnets.
  • Shows how the sonnets offer a replicate during which cultures can learn their very own severe biases.
  • Informed by means of the newest theoretical, cultural and archival work.

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Extra info for A Companion to Shakespeare's Sonnets

Sample text

2 Formal Pleasure in the Sonnets Helen Vendler The Art of the Sonnets, and the Speaker They Create With respect to the Sonnets – a text now almost four hundred years old – what can a commentary offer that is new? It can, I think, approach the sonnets, as I have chosen to do, from the vantage point of the poet who wrote them, asking the questions that a poet would ask about any poem. What was the aesthetic challenge for Shakespeare in writing these poems, of confining himself (with a few exceptions) to a single architectural form?

Above all, what we want of art is the chance to believe that the orderliness of art is not artificial but of the essence of the substance described, that things are as they look when they have a circle around them. We don’t want to feel that art is orderly. We want to feel that things are orderly. We want to feel that art does not make order but shows it. There are as many ways of trying for the contradictory effects of art as there are artists. All of them aim at replacing the complexities of reality with controlled complexities that will make the experience of the orderly work of art sufficiently similar to the experience of random nature, so that the comfort of artistic coherence will not be immediately dismissed as irrelevant to the intellectual discomfort of the human condition.

No marvel then though I mistake my view; The sun itself sees not till heaven clears. O cunning love, with tears thou keep’st me blind, Lest eyes well seeing thy foul faults should find. A reader alert to the way that boilerplate idiom, when it is found in the couplet (as black as hell, as dark as night, sonnet 147), carries the speaker’s despair of a solution, and who sees how in other sonnets the speaker finds a “way out” by displacing despair from the couplet to a few lines above (thereby providing room in the couplet for a fresh view), will not find couplets of either sort uninteresting.

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