By Paul Edmondson, Stanely Wells
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 of composition, to their relation to other poetry of the period and to Shakespeare's plays, that even the most na ve 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 intriguing poems.