Ideas of Order: A Close Reading of Shakespeares Sonnets

ISBN 13: 9780374280154
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And the poet and the young man are drawn in to a cycle of lust and betrayal by a "dark lady," a woman with the "power to make love groan. This critical analysis is accompanied by the text of all of Shakespeare's sonnets. Accessible and thought-provoking, Ideas of Order is an invaluable companion to this cornerstone of literature. Neil L.

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The styles of the poems differ in accordance to the difference Continue Reading. Shakespeare's Sonnets Text, summary, and critical commentary for each sonnet. In being brutally open, candid and unconventional, the speaker has ironically given his mistress a heightened beauty, simply because he doesn't dote on her outward appearance. William Shakespeare was nowhere shy of doing these Continue Reading. In a Shakespearean sonnet taken on its own, that final couplet functions like two hands touching, a prayer breathed into oblivion on a trembling ledge of thought, a hope, a resolution of the contradictions that have thronged the three quatrains. The second line focuses on the mistress's lips and informs the reader that they are not that red, not as red as coral the marine corals , again the perfect colour for the perfect female.

Paul Getty Trust. He lives in Princeton, NJ. Yet they are scarcely read, except for the few that are regularly anthologized.

This is not necessarily surprising. The vogue for sonnets reached its height in England during the last decades of the sixteenth century, and while many major writers—including Milton, Wordsworth, Keats, Frost, and Auden—have at times used the form to great effect, it remains a rarity, especially in modern literature. To be confronted with a sequence of sonnets, therefore, is a considerable challenge, particularly if the poems are as complex as any work written by Shakespeare. To try to take the measure of each of these poems is an exercise for adventurous but also patient spirits.

To grasp the contours of the sequence as a whole requires no less concentration. The effort, however, is more than simply rewarding, because the work consists of love poetry that is as passionate, daring, intimate, searing, and lyrical as any that we may ever encounter. It makes no attempt to survey the broad range of comparatively recent interpretations, but does argue that the Sonnets are more carefully ordered—as a coherent sequence—than is the case in most other works of criticism and scholarship.

A number of the best Shakespearean scholars have—over a great many years—shown how little evidence exists to support any number of hypotheses put forward by commentators with an interest in the historical or biographical background of the Sonnets.

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But these efforts were, for a very long time, largely ignored. The situation was such that in when W. Auden published an introduction to the sequence, he began not with the usual generalizations that characterize such essays, but with a full assault:.

Apart from biographical and more general historical matters, at least two other major issues have confronted commentators. These concern the order of the Sonnets and their dating.

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Indeed, some editors, over many decades, have attempted to rearrange the sequence in an effort to create a more fully coherent and carefully structured narrative or drama. Not surprisingly, all of these attempts failed. Sonnet sequences belong to no well-defined genre. If Shakespeare was concerned about giving some discernible shape to the Sonnets, there is no way to settle the question of his role in their publication.

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Perhaps his informal audience of friends was sufficient. With respect to Shakespeare, there is simply no way to reach a persuasive conclusion: the case remains open, and is likely to remain so. Most scholars are inclined to date the Sonnets—at least in large part—to the early to mids, which is plausible on stylistic grounds. We know that a number of the sonnets had been written and were in circulation by Several of these later sonnets to the young man deal at a consistently deep level with the themes of infatuation, betrayal, self-betrayal, disillusion, and moments of attempted reconciliation and affirmation.

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Similar themes appear early in the sequence, but many poems beginning with reveal a density and relentlessness of torturous experience—with some obvious moments of asserted triumph but no final resolution. There are many ways to approach the Sonnets, and several excellent scholarly books and editions in recent decades have highlighted one or another method. It is rare to find consideration of the sequence as if it had some of the characteristics of a drama or narrative, and there are certainly reasons not to do so. As a result, a great deal of what happens remains obscure.

When the young man first betrays and deserts the poet in sonnets 33—35 , we learn only the most general nature of his transgression. Consequently, many of the best Shakespearean scholars and critics have in the past three to four decades concluded that it is impossible to discover any substantial degree of unity in the Sonnets. Still others find too many discontinuities—from poem to poem—to allow for much or any coherence at all in the work.

These are all relevant observations, and anyone who wishes to make the case for a particular kind of order in the sequence must assume as this book does that there is one male friend in the first sonnets, and one mistress in —54; that some sections are concerned with identifiable themes, in contrast to quite well-defined specific incidents and situations; and that one can trace an overall progression of sentiments and a general development in the work, even though many individual poems do not strictly follow the subject matter of those immediately preceding them.

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In considering this apparent lack of continuity, several points should be kept in mind. He makes a case for the existence of a dramatic arc within the work through an expert interpretation of distinct groups of sonnets in relationship to one another. The sonnets show us a poet in turmoil whose love for a young man—who returns his affections—is utterly transformative, binding him in such an irresistible way that it survives a number of infidelities.

Bestselling in Sonnets Ideas of Order: A Close Reading of Shakespeare's Sonnets ( ): Neil L. Rudenstine: Books. Ideas of Order book. Read 14 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. Shakespeare's sonnets are the greatest single work of lyric poetry i.

And the poet and the young man are drawn in to a cycle of lust and betrayal by a "dark lady," a woman with the "power to make love groan. Neil L.

Why Shakespeare loved iambic pentameter - David T. Freeman and Gregory Taylor

Rudenstine is a famously gifted close-reader, wonderfully alert to nuances of tone and meaning in each individual sonnet, but his great achievement in this book is to illuminate the irony, poignancy, and wisdom of Shakespeare's whole astonishing structure.