sonnets. yes! i am so excited. i haven't read any of them in years, and have little recollection of them. we've said before that Shakespeare was probably more serious about his reputation as a poet than as a playwright. plays brought in the money, but poems brought credibility. it's not completely clear when they were written, but they were probably written over a number of years during the heyday of sonneteering- the 1590's.
it's a huge mystery who the sonnets are addressed to. they are dedicated to 'Mr. W. H.' the sonnets were published, however, in 1609 by Thomas Thorpe, who evidently didn't have any permission to publish them. it's unclear if the dedication is Shakespeare's or Thorpe's. and no one is sure who W. H. is.
another subject of historical debate is the order and relation of the sonnets. the order we know them in is probably Thorpe's, and may not be the order that Shakespeare intended. then again, maybe it is Shakespeare's order. also, it is not clear if the characters are supposed to be part of one consistent story or not. there seems to be the narrator, a friend, a lover, and a rival poet. are they all the same friend? the same lover? no one is sure. it will be fun to think about that as we go. are the 'inconsistent' poems simply juxtaposed scenes spanning a long story? and a non-linear one at that? and is the story, if there is one, in any way about Shakespeare's own life? apparently it was unpopular at the time to create poems of a personal nature, but who knows? let's make our own observations and guesses as we go.
I'm so excited to read the sonnets. and i hope you will read along with me. i will share more background information as we go, and feel free to share your knowledge, opinions, and ideas! thanks, as always, for reading!
for tomorrow: sonnets 1-6