Shakespeare's Sonnets by William Shakespeare
(Arden Shakespeare: Third Series)

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The bard's sonnets read by a leading actor of stage and screen Simon Callow.

Savor the most celebrated love poems in the English language. Written almost 400 years ago, the sonnets of William Shakespeare are passionate and exalted, rich in imagery and alliteration, and full of mystery and intrigue.

This selection presents all 154 sonnets composed from 1593-1601. In words and rhyme, he reveals his infatuation with the "Dark Lady," his relationship with a rival poet, and his private thoughts on love, death, beauty, and truth: timeless themes that span the centuries to touch our hearts today.


About William Shakespeare

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William Shakespeare, 1564 - 1616 Although there are many myths and mysteries surrounding William Shakespeare, a great deal is actually known about his life. He was born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, son of John Shakespeare, a prosperous merchant and local politician and Mary Arden, who had the wealth to send their oldest son to Stratford Grammar School. At 18, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway, the 27-year-old daughter of a local farmer, and they had their first daughter six months later. He probably developed an interest in theatre by watching plays performed by traveling players in Stratford while still in his youth. Some time before 1592, he left his family to take up residence in London, where he began acting and writing plays and poetry. By 1594 Shakespeare had become a member and part owner of an acting company called The Lord Chamberlain's Men, where he soon became the company's principal playwright. His plays enjoyed great popularity and high critical acclaim in the newly built Globe Theatre. It was through his popularity that the troupe gained the attention of the new king, James I, who appointed them the King's Players in 1603. Before retiring to Stratford in 1613, after the Globe burned down, he wrote more than three dozen plays (that we are sure of) and more than 150 sonnets. He was celebrated by Ben Jonson, one of the leading playwrights of the day, as a writer who would be "not for an age, but for all time," a prediction that has proved to be true. Today, Shakespeare towers over all other English writers and has few rivals in any language. His genius and creativity continue to astound scholars, and his plays continue to delight audiences. Many have served as the basis for operas, ballets, musical compositions, and films. While Jonson and other writers labored over their plays, Shakespeare seems to have had the ability to turn out work of exceptionally high caliber at an amazing speed. At the height of his career, he wrote an average of two plays a year as well as dozens of poems, songs, and possibly even verses for tombstones and heraldic shields, all while he continued to act in the plays performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men. This staggering output is even more impressive when one considers its variety. Except for the English history plays, he never wrote the same kind of play twice. He seems to have had a good deal of fun in trying his hand at every kind of play. Shakespeare wrote 154 sonnets, all published on 1609, most of which were dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothsley, The Earl of Southhampton. He also wrote 13 comedies, 13 histories, 6 tragedies, and 4 tragecomedies. He died at Stratford-upon-Avon April 23, 1616, and was buried two days later on the grounds of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. His cause of death was unknown, but it is surmised that he knew he was dying.
Published January 1, 1978 by Rowman and Littlefield. 177 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

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The Guardian

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The poems themselves take up 133 pages, and what's nice about that is the way modern-spelling versions are on the facing page of facsimiles of the 1609 Quarto, which reveal interesting spellings and punctuation: it is left up to us to decide whether they are simply quaint period details or an ins...

Aug 26 2000 | Read Full Review of Shakespeare's Sonnets (Arden ...

The Guardian

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Shakespeare's Sonnets must be the most uneven work in the entire canon of English literature, slipping from blandness to a jarring intensity, and in Don Paterson's new book they receive a commentary to match.

Nov 07 2010 | Read Full Review of Shakespeare's Sonnets (Arden ...

BC Books

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Pushkin has just come out with a new, sweet little edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets, and in addition to being nicely designed, it's a good reminder of the relationship - still intimate after millennia - between literature and physical objects.

May 15 2008 | Read Full Review of Shakespeare's Sonnets (Arden ...

The Telegraph

Reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets is an impressive work and there is .

Nov 14 2010 | Read Full Review of Shakespeare's Sonnets (Arden ...

London Review of Books

She concludes her account of sonnet 15 by pointing out: ‘KEY WORD: YOU (It could be argued that this word is not present in Ql, but I suggest it is phonetically hiding in ‘HUge’, chosen precisely for its anticipation of YOU.)’ As is evident from the layout, this is a critical book which adopts th...

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The New York Review of Books

Stephen Greenblatt, near the beginning of his Will in the World (2004), says, “There are huge gaps in knowledge that make any biographical study of Shakespeare an exercise in speculation.” Jonathan Bate, in Soul of the Age (2009), recalls Barbara Everett’s insistence that Shakespeare’s biography ...

Dec 22 2011 | Read Full Review of Shakespeare's Sonnets (Arden ...

Project MUSE

Offering new readings of Sonnet 145, with its pun on “hate away” (Hathaway) (22–23), and Sonnets 135 and 136, with their puns on “Will” (24–25), Callaghan perceptively reads the biographical echoes to reveal their complex relation to Petrarchan and Ovidian traditions, while reminding us that “as ...

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Boston Review

Vendler has a kind of "sonnet radar": from the text of the sonnet she interpolates echoes of what the sonnet's addressee has just said, what the speaker is trying to avoid saying, and what the speaker wants to hear.

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