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Complete Sonnets (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – January 1, 1991

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Without a doubt the most important of Shakespeare's nondramatic works, the sonnets have engendered reams of scholarly disputation as to the identity of "the dark lady" and the "lovely boy" to whom the vast majority are addressed. Controversy has also long simmered over the full name of the "W.H." of the dedication. What is not in dispute is the superior quality of these lyrics, which rank among the finest sonnets ever written—in any language.
Overt 150 poems deal with love, friendship, the tyranny of time, beauty's evanescence in power, death, and other themes in language unsurpassed in power, precision, and beauty. Now this inexpensive Dover edition enables any lover of poetry or fine literature to have this exquisite verse in his or her personal library. A brief glossary illuminates a number of archaic terms.

From AudioFile

The Complete Sonnets is a handy resource for lovers of these poems. Recorded in consecutive order, with each actor reading in shifts of one or two sonnets, this production really does let the poem, in this case, be the thing. There's not much introduction before each sonnet besides the announcement of the next number. While it's nice to hear different readers deliver the poems, the transitions are, on occasion, jarring; one just settles into the timbre of a voice only to have it suddenly altered. Overall, the collection is a great resource and would make an excellent gift for a Shakespeare fan. R.A.P. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 74 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications; Reprint edition (January 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0486266869
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486266862
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (205 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in April 1564, and his birth is traditionally celebrated on April 23. The facts of his life, known from surviving documents, are sparse. He was one of eight children born to John Shakespeare, a merchant of some standing in his community. William probably went to the King's New School in Stratford, but he had no university education. In November 1582, at the age of eighteen, he married Anne Hathaway, eight years his senior, who was pregnant with their first child, Susanna. She was born on May 26, 1583. Twins, a boy, Hamnet ( who would die at age eleven), and a girl, Judith, were born in 1585. By 1592 Shakespeare had gone to London working as an actor and already known as a playwright. A rival dramatist, Robert Greene, referred to him as "an upstart crow, beautified with our feathers." Shakespeare became a principal shareholder and playwright of the successful acting troupe, the Lord Chamberlain's Men (later under James I, called the King's Men). In 1599 the Lord Chamberlain's Men built and occupied the Globe Theater in Southwark near the Thames River. Here many of Shakespeare's plays were performed by the most famous actors of his time, including Richard Burbage, Will Kempe, and Robert Armin. In addition to his 37 plays, Shakespeare had a hand in others, including Sir Thomas More and The Two Noble Kinsmen, and he wrote poems, including Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. His 154 sonnets were published, probably without his authorization, in 1609. In 1611 or 1612 he gave up his lodgings in London and devoted more and more time to retirement in Stratford, though he continued writing such plays as The Tempest and Henry VII until about 1613. He died on April 23 1616, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford. No collected edition of his plays was published during his life-time, but in 1623 two members of his acting company, John Heminges and Henry Condell, put together the great collection now called the First Folio.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on April 15, 2003
Format: Paperback
The Dover Thrift Edition of the Complete Sonnets is exactly that: the complete sonnets, and nothing more. Though often scorned by literary snobs, the entire Dover series does fulfill one very useful function: it provides cheap, easy-to-read, and widely-available versions of literary classics. What you get, in this case, are all of Shakespeare's sonnets (undisputably some of the greatest poems ever written and a true treasure of English literature; obviously, a review of any edition of these poems will inevitably focus not upon the work itself, which is beyond repute, but, rather, on the individual edition as presented) -- and nothing else. Much more expansive (and expensive) versions are available, featuring an introduction to the sonnets with background information, notes and annotations, a handy list of definitions for archaic and obscure Elizabethian words -- and, more than likely, at least one pretentious individual interpretation of the work. Obviously, if one is looking to study Shakespeare, really go in-depth into the sonnets for scholarly or academic purposes, then one should look into one of the editions just described. If you just want a copy of the sonnets without desiring to spend too much money, you don't need or don't want all of those extras, or you simply want to impress incredulous people by owning a set of Shakespeare's sonnets, however, then you could do worse than picking up this inexpensive little book.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Mary Jane Chaffee on February 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
A colleague advised that I assign my college students this edition, and I am glad she did. Rather than reading the few anthologized works together with some handouts, students now own the entire set. For anyone not familiar with Shakespeare's 154 sonnets, this gives an affordable and portable version. For anyone familiar with the works, this book offers them in a beautifully light, compressed format that itself enhances rereading and re-interpretation. The book begins with a helpful one-page background on the sonnet form and on Shakespeare's collection, and ends with an also-helpful alphabetical list of first lines. The two-page glossary of terms at the end may be too little, too late, but the drawbacks of Dover's edition--its lack of notes and its use of roman numerals to number the poems--pale compared with the book's availability. As an enthusiast myself--someone who studied at the Shakespeare Institute, England, writing a 310-page thesis on the Bard--I feel grateful to be able to help others to such an inexpensive and pleasant way to own and explore Shakespeare's entire collection of sonnets. Because I could skim the poems in sequence so quickly and easily with this edition, the interrelationships among Sonnets 113, 114, 115, and the famous 116, "Let me not to the marriage of true minds," for example, struck me in a new way as I reread them in this little book. A highly- recommended edition.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 25, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
William Shakespeare is best known as a playwright. When you think of Shakespeare, you automatically think of plays -- "Romeo and Juliet," "Macbeth," "Hamlet," etc.

But he was also a poet of considerable skill. And while he sprinkled his various plays with poetry and songs, his poems are best appreciated when they're read all by themselves -- particularly the cluster of brilliant "Sonnets" that he penned. These works just have a unique, hauntingly vivid flavour of their own.

Each sonnet has no title, and is simply identified by numbers. And while Shakespeare's love poems are the best known of these works, he addresses different themes in theme -- old age, writer's block loneliness, the cruelty of the world, sex, beauty, a mysterious rival poet, and Shakespeare's own complicated romantic feelings (love that "looks upon tempests and is not shaken").

And these poems are absolutely lovely. Some of these sonnets are pretty well-known ("Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?/Thou art more lovely and more temperate") but most of them are a little more obscure. They have vivid metaphors and imagery ("let not winter's ragged hand deface," "gold candles fix'd in heaven's air") and hauntingly lovely passages ("What is your substance, whereof are you made,/That millions of strange shadows on you tend?").

And these sonnets really give you new insights into Shakespeare as a person -- he feels uncertainty, passionate love, unhappiness, lust and quirky humor. But while it's obvious these sonnets were deeply personal, they can still be appreciated on their own, particularly as love poetry.

William Shakespeare's "Sonnets" are rich with meaning, language and atmosphere -- the Elizabethan English takes a little deciphering, but it's well worth it.
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33 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Patrick J. Southam on September 8, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am a big fan of Shakespeare, his poetry as well as his plays. The poetry here is excellent. I deduct one star from this review, because on the kindle version, the default type size setting puts about 8 sentences per page, and each sentence runs to 2 lines. Thus, you don't see the entire poem on a single page, with each sentence in a single line as you would in a nice paper book. Maybe that is nit-picky to some folks.

That being said, I greatly appreciate Kindle, and the wide variety of classic literature available for little cost. Thank you to all who are making these things available for e-readers.
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Complete Sonnets (Dover Thrift Editions)
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