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Shakespeare's sonnets - Stanley Wells

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Shakespeare's sonnets
Stanley Wells
Paperback / softback
Oxford University Press
UK Publication Date

The sonnets are among the most accomplished and fascinating poems in the English language. They are central to an understanding of Shakespeare's work as a poet and poetic dramatist, and while their autobiographical relevance is uncertain, no account of Shakespeare's life can afford to ignore them. So many myths and superstitions have arisen around these poems, relating for example to their possible addressees, to their coherence as a sequence, to their dates ofcomposition, to their relation to other poetry of the period and to Shakespeare's plays, that even the most nave reader will find it difficult to read them with an innocent mind. Shakespeare's Sonnets dispels the myths and focuses on the poems. Considering different possible ways of reading the Sonnets,Wells and Edmondson place them in a variety of literary and dramatic contexts - in relation to other poetry of the period, to Shakespeare's plays, as poems for performance, and in relation to their reception and reputation. Selected sonnets are discussed in depth, but the book avoids the jargon of theoretical criticism. Shakespeare's Sonnets is an exciting contribution to the Oxford Shakespeare Topics, ideal for students and the general reader interested in these intriguingpoems.

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highly acclaimed.
Olivia Kelleher, Irish Times

I cannot imagine any other single secondary source that could be as useful as this slender volume.
Elizabeth Holtze, Rocky Mountain Review

This is an admirably clear book about obscurity. The authors ask many impossible questions, then satisfy our curiosity while leaving them unanswered. The Sonnets are already opaque as we approach them. The famous introductory dedication to Mr W.H. has inspired volumes of misplaced ingenuity, enough to shadow the poems themselves. Trying to find Mr W.S. inside those 2000 enigmatic lines needs sense, sensibility, time, curiosity, patience and scholarship. Edmondson andWells have those qualities. Though the centre of the labyrinth is never reached, they are lively and trustworthy guides.
Tom Deveson, Around the Globe

elegant...This book is excellent on links between theatre and sonnets...The book is also a consideration, even a celebration, of what, precisely, makes Shakespeare's verse so compelling.

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