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Shakespeare's Sonnets (Arden Shakespeare: Third Series) Paperback – August 21, 1997

4.4 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 9-Up The simplicity and elegance of Shakespeare's lyric poetry is apparent in this audio rendition. All 154 sonnets are read in order, each one identified by its number which corresponds with the CD track number, making it easy to locate a particular choice. This form of poetry is characterized by 14 lines of rhymed, iambic pentameter in a scheme of three quatrains followed by a couplet. British narrator, David Butler, reads the sonnets as the form dictates, recognizing the endstops and adjusting his tone to the turn of the couplet. His voice is liltingly romantic with a limited range of emotion. In an afterward, Butler explains how the first 126 sonnets are addressed to a young man, in general, and the last two addressed to Cupid. The "dark lady" of the other sonnets is a mystery as is the person or patron for whom the collection was written. This information is fascinating, and students would benefit by listening to it first. There is no pause or analysis between sonnets and no accompanying text, suggesting that teachers will best use the CDs as an audio reference. Shakespeare's well-loved verse is in an ideal format for teachers to use as a class resource.
Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Since we will never hear tapes of Keats or Shakespeare reading, and several recordings by actors exist (e.g., John Keats: Selected Poems, Blackstone Audio, 1993; Sonnets by William Shakespeare, Recorded Bks., 1990), we must judge these tapes by the actors' performances. In John Keats: Poems, Douglas Dodge modulates his voice beautifully to capture the slightly varied emotions of many poems. This well-edited recording contains Keats's most famous works: "La Belle Dame Sans Merci," "The Eve of St. Agnes," "Ode to a Nightingale," "On a Grecian Urn," along with many lesser-known short poems such as "To Mrs. Reynolds' Cat" that exhibit the poet's more fanciful side. Reading all of Shakespeare's sonnets written between 1593 and 1601, actor Simon Callow conveys the dramatic potential not often recognizable in other recordings. With the exception of a few sonnets addressing the muse, anyone unfamiliar with Shakespeare's works could easily believe these were selected monologs from various plays. Pausing briefly between poems, Callow's tone shifts enough to create new characterizations for every sonnet. Both tapes are recommended for smaller collections and essential for larger ones.
Rochelle Ratner, formerly Poetry Editor, "Soho Weekly News," New York
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 504 pages
  • Publisher: Arden Shakespeare; 3rd edition (August 21, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1903436575
  • ISBN-13: 978-1903436578
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #351,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Zuill on January 20, 2008
Format: Audio CD
This guy read the Auden in Four Weddings and Funeral I think. Simon Callow treats his voice as an instrument. He can strum and roar and hiss and bellow. And he has taken some trouble with the notes and tones. This may seem a rather contrived sensibility at first, but he uses his velvet oboe of his voice to a fine effect, calling it to the issue of the meaning prehaps more than a concern for a natural tone. And I quickly got over this modern quibble. The sonnets are contrivances and they are also concerned with terrible truths. Callow has invented a style that fits. And to his credit, it is also startlingly passionate.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read these sonnets two a day over the summer, and I wish there were more than 154 of them so I could keep going into the fall. I think I'll pick up "The Tempest" next.
The poetry in this volume is beautiful, equisite and full of passion. What makes Shakespeare worth reading is the way he lets the world into his lines. His metaphors appeal deliciously to the senses, like a beam of sunlight through a high window in the afternoon, or the smell of a new cut lawn in the spring. Shakespeare's writing is immortal, not because a conspiracy of teachers got together and decided it should be, but because it is full of life, and nothing that is full of life can really ever die.
If you're not used to reading Elizabthean English or are put off by the thought of Shakespeare, this is a good place to start. This edition helpfully "translates" each sonnet into modern English on a facing page along with definitions for the more troubling words. Even with the help, I still don't think Shakespeare is all that easy to read. But anything you do in this world that makes you feel more passionate about life is a pretty good thing. If you give Shakespeare some of your time, he's bound to pay you back with plenty of interest.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The sonnets are annotated with grace, precision and completeness here. Virtually every puzzle (or potential quibble) is commented upon in the rich notes facing each sonnet, and if there are ambiguities, they are allowed to flourish, rather than being settled. So there's plenty left for the reader to do, deciding which way to tilt the reading, and great enjoyment to be had. Smart, comprehensive, and readable (though it's true that to speak of its being readable in the most literal sense requires me to squint while reading the notes in anything but bright light). This is the indispensable collection of Shakespeare's Sonnets for a reader interested in savoring their incredible richness.
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A Kid's Review on September 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
The secondary source material found in the appendices, the fantastic footnotes, the capacioius introductions, the big clear typeface, the textual editing decisions, all make the Ardens the best single-volume Shakespeares by a long shot. The rest pale by comparison.

The only drawback, god forgive this y-chromosomed curmudgeon, that I can see in this particular Arden is that the editor, Katherine Duncan-Jones, often tends to lean a bit too far to the left, indulging into too much gender politic-ing.

Duncan-Jones also spends a quite a bit of time arguing in a rather extended manner for composition dates that are self-consciously 'provocative' and seem to be much too speculative for an introduction.

One could match this with Booth's version, which by comparison seems perhaps a touch more shallow and hidebound-- but more solid, and get a nice complimentary set of typefaces and editorial views that would balance out nicely, I would suspect.
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Format: Paperback
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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