ALL THE SONNETS OF SHAKESPEARE Book Review — Gift for Shakespeare Lovers

From the moment you hold All The Sonnets of Shakespeare in your hands, you can appreciate —as this reviewer did—the love that has gone into making this book. A hard cover, bound by a slick jacket bearing gold lettering, it also has a matching bookmark long enough to earmark two pages at once. You’re gonna need it. Editors Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells come armed with a plethora of knowledge which begins with what went into making this book, and expands to include not only every original scribed sonnet with its annotated lexicon, but also a Cliff Notes section in the back. 

The authors spend the forward of the book providing reasons for what sonnets were included and the order in which they were included. Consequently, this book contains not only sonnets published as such, but also texts in sonnet form that appeared in Shakespeare’s plays, private letters, translations, and rewrites. The authors also dissect the way Shakespeare’s sonnets have previously been published and challenge the idea that the sonnets were “historical, autobiographical narratives”. They suggest that “Shakespeare’s Sonnets can instead be read for traces of his personality, as though the poems were his emotional, psychological, and spiritual memoir, in part made up of his addresses to other people, in part his own soliloquies played out primarily for himself”.

Dame Judi Dench in All's Well That Ends Well, 2003 Photo: Manuel Harlan (c) RSC

ALL THE SONNETS OF SHAKESPEARE Gives Insights Into The Bard of Avon

Be aware that this is not a dumbed down version of the sonnets. This is beyond Shakespeare 101 and the book carries an academic aura. If you, too, are a Shakespeare lover, All The Sonnets of Shakespeare would make a great addition to your ever-expanding understanding of the Bard of Avon. We glean insights on Shakespeare’s relationships with love, lust, sexuality and poetry.With its graphed tables that break down the sonnets chronologically and thematically, you can skip around to your heart’s desire. 

However, as educational as it may be, the allure is in the invitation, in this writer’s view. All The Sonnets of Shakespeare dares you to really get it. One thing is for certain—even Shakespeare knew when he asked his love if he shall compare her to a summer’s day, that his poetry would live on centuries later: “So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.”


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For more information or to purchase this book, please visit Cambridge University Press.

Images courtesy of Cambridge University Press.

Tonika Todorova

About the Author: Tonika Todorova

Tonika Todorova dabbles in writing, producing, directing, acting, singing, curating, parenting, meditating, experimenting, gardening, traveling, filming, people connecting and life navigating.

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