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Intended for all readers, this exciting, new approach to reading Shakespeare's Sonnets is edited with commentary by Dr. Carl D. Atkins, the editor of the most recent variorum edition, Shakespeare's Sonnets: With Three Hundred Years of Commentary (2007). It is based on the same critical scholarship which earned Atkins acclaim for his variorum (see review below) and the same innovative application of well-accepted research that led to his fascinating publications in Studies in Philology on The Sonnets and Measure for Measure.
"His sugared Sonnets among his private friends." That's how Shakespeare's Sonnets were described in the only contemporary reference to them. This brings up the image of a talented, young poet-with a penchant for irreverent fun (W. H. Auden once said, "Shakespeare never takes himself too seriously")-getting together with friends to read his new sonnet cycle.
Shakespeare's Sonnets increase the reader's fun in trying to work out the details of the vague story they tell by adding a love triangle to the usual tale of thwarted love and turning convention upside down. Atkins invites his readers to imagine they are among the friends our poet has allowed to see his new sonnets. They read the poems and the discussion of each one as he helps them figure out their story. They get to see what it might have been like to read Shakespeare's Sonnets "among his private friends."
This book is complete with glosses of difficult words and phrases and a thorough explanation of each poem. It has the same sensitive readings of verse that made Atkins's variorum unique. Also unique to this edition is a look at how the last 28 sonnets about a "dark lady" may have been influenced by Christopher Marlowe's English translation of Ovid's erotic poems, Amores (Book 1 of which is included in an appendix). In addition, Atkins has made as a companion to this edition a complete metrical analysis of all 154 poems, available gratis at www.amonghisprivatefriends.com.