THE BOOK KNOWN AS Q: A Consideration of Shakespeare's Sonnets by Robert Giroux

THE BOOK KNOWN AS Q: A Consideration of Shakespeare's Sonnets

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Yes, the Sonnets again: Was Shakespeare a homosexual? Who was ""Mr. W.H.""--the dark lady? the rival poet? When exactly was Sonnet 107 (""Not mine own fears nor the prophetic soul. . ."") written? And the rest? Where did Shakespeare first meet the Earl of Southhampton? Giroux is a devout and generally well-informed Bardolater, and a few fanatical academic sleuths may still want to track such things down; but surely nobody else much cares. Giroux's reconstruction of the ""plot"" of the Sonnets is sensible enough (""The poet is asked, or hired, to write a series of poems that will persuade to marriage a young man of high station, who is not yet of age,"" and so forth); such reconstructions are at best patchwork speculation, however, and add very little to our understanding of the poems. As Kittredge observed, any well-made sonnet will sound autobiographical or confessional. Fortunately, Giroux doesn't spend too much time reading the Sonnets as a roman à clef, but he nonetheless largely disregards them as art. Instead, he assembles a mass of mildy interesting but mostly peripheral data under alliterative headings. ""The Poems,"" ""The Patron"" (Southhampton), ""The Pedant"" (John Florio), ""The Play"" (Love's Labour's Lost, supposedly parallel to the Sonnets in various ways), ""The Publisher"" (Thomas Thorpe), and ""The Poet."" It's all harmless and spasmodically informative, but more like the notes of an indefatigable student than a sustained and pointed argument.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1982
Publisher: Atheneum