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The Sonnets and Narrative Poems by William Shakespeare

The Sonnets and Narrative Poems

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The Sonnets and Narrative Poems by William Shakespeare
Dec 15, 1992 | ISBN 9780679417415
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  • Hardcover $21.00

    Dec 15, 1992 | ISBN 9780679417415

  • Ebook $2.99

    Jul 08, 2015 | ISBN 9780375712814

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“Shakespeare has deliberately opened up the ­two-­character form he inherited and, as the dramatist he would become, populated the ­love-­sequence in new and drastically more interesting ways . . . In inventive metaphorical reach alone, Shakespeare excels his predecessors . . . [He] makes the ­sonnet-­voice ampler and more psychologically convincing than ever before.” –from the Introduction by Helen Vendler

Author Essay

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was already known as a playwright and actor before he published, in 1593 and 1594, his two narrative poems Venus and Adonis and Lucrece (usually known by its subtitle The Rape of Lucrece), both dedicated to Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southampton. These long and accomplished poems suggest a sustained period of verse-writing which must have preceded them, and that period may have included some of Shakespeare’s sonnets. The sonnets are first mentioned in 1598 by Francis Meres; it is possible that the extended compositional period of the 154 sonnets both preceded and followed the long narrative poems, though the sonnets as a group were not published until 1609 (together with the long poem called A Lover’s Complaint). The 1609 Sonnets lacks an authorial dedication of the sort found in Venus and Lucrece, and t has been conjectured that the volume was published without Shakespeare’s authorization.

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