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Shakespeare's Sonnets (Yale Nota Bene) Paperback – July 11, 2000
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Shakespeare's 'Sonnets' is a deservedly well-loved body of poetry, and there have been innumerable editions. For the enthusiast and student, however, it's doubtful that there could be a better edition than that of Stephen Booth. Originally published in a bulky (and expensive) clothbound edition in 1977, it has now been reissued as a fat though fairly compact paperback that will put it within reach of a much wider audience.
One reason that Elizabethan lyrics are so powerful and memorable, is that they were composed in an age when poetry was still linked closely with music. Elizabethans were often competent musicians, and many of their poems were true lyrics or songs. Often their poems were set to music, and all were probably composed while the gentle plucking of a lute or some such instrument was running somewhere through the back of the poet's mind.
Today we live in an age when composers are no longer giving us real songs, songs that stay in the mind and that can be hummed or sung when for some reason or other they rise into consciousness; songs that are always there when we feel like singing, and that can help cheer us up, make us happy, and refresh our spirit; songs, too, for both light and more thoughtful moods.
In contrast to this true type of song, what we seem to be getting today is little more than words with little or no meaning accompanied by noise, the sort of stuff that a machine could write and probably is writing, and profoundly unmemorable.
Shakespeare's 'Sonnets,' however, bring us a world of meaning.Read more ›
Rather than repeat the fine points in other reviews, allow me just to caution the reader about the change in the publisher's standards of printing (beginning around 2000): the paper gets cheap, and the binding too. I would love to support Yale University Press in its commitment to keep this edition in print. Unfortunately, if you are a serious enough student to value Professor Booth's work, you will be using this volume enough to need a better printing, and I need to encourage you to seek out a used copy of an earlier printing.
This is surely the definitive edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets.
I thought I knew the sonnets until I read this - and re-read and read again.
The poems are presented in facsimile with a modern version facing allowing the readers to attempt their own direct reading if they wish. The modern version has a British spelling slant - which I find gratifying!
Mr Booth is painstaking in his scholarship - attempting to give a feeling for the Renaissance reader's understanding of the poems as well as explaining the `meaning' of the lines. And his attempts are successful.
I cannot imagine a better edition in my lifetime!
If want want a scholarly text this is a good one. However, if you wear reading glasses and simply want to read Shakespeare's Sonnets in a relaxed way without squinting, you may want to look elsewhere.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Stephen Booth will give you the most in-depth context into Shakespeare's writing that is available.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Accurate to the description. Has both original text and modern translations. Makes comprehension tangible to those struggling with Shakespearian text.Published on December 3, 2013 by Brad Nussbaum