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Get the scoop on what makes a sonnet a sonnet and how this elegant 14-line verse form developed, from Petrarch to Rilke. Also gives pointers on how to distinguish a Petrarchan from a Shakespearean sonnet.
Here's your up-to-date, tech-savvy source on all things Shakespeare.
Check out this chatty, British-professor-on-holiday introduction by Oxquarry Books for some great sonnet context. Includes the texts of every Shakespearean sonnet in addition to sonnets by Wyatt, Spenser, Sidney, and a host of others.
Yeah, we're not sure either. What does Sonnet 55 have to do with a 2D gingerbread house?
Have you ever wondered what Sonnet 55 would look like reinvented as a Pokemon video game? Yeah, us neither.
Darth Vader reads Sonnet 55, giving a whole new meaning to wearing "this world out to the ending doom" (12). Could doom = final galactic battle between Emperor and Rebels?
Sir John Gielgud's reading, accompanied by period music, comes with high praise: "Listening to Gielgud's consummately wrought and deeply felt recitations is like having the verses whispered in your ear by the creator himself." We assume he means Shakespeare and not God.
It's really meant for an iPad, but watching David Calder's jowls quiver passionately as he recites the lines of sonnet 55 is still mesmerizing. The lines light up as he says them. Ah, technology.
Click through these facsimiles of the original 1609 quarto to get a feel for how Shakespeare's sonnets looked when they first hit the world.
Check out these sixteenth-century funerary monuments to see what Will meant in lines 1-2: "Not marble, nor the gilded monuments / Of princes, shall outlive this powerful rhyme." These Tudors knew how to go out in style.
Show your Shakespeare love by proudly wearing Sonnet 55 across your chest.
Articles & Interviews
In this introduction to the sonnets as love poetry, Professor Jonathan Bate warns readers against reading Shakespeare's life into his poetry: "Don't be drawn into the trap of supposing that they are autobiographical: that is an illusion of Shakespeare's art."
For a cheeky take on the sonnets, fill up on Dan Paterson's opinionated introduction that starts with blushing through a cheese course and ends with Shakespeare's genius.
With over 600 examples of sonnets, Phillis Levin shows us how this form evolved (grew feathers and legs?) over the ages.
Get a load of this hardcover edition of the sonnets, complete with context, "its relationship with its neighbors, its argument, and the details of its language and musical effects." For the discerning reader.
Get the New York Times' take on a 2010 production of Peter Brook's Love is My Sin, a theatrical adaptation of 31 Shakespeare sonnets. The show held true to the themes: "the production, presented by Theater for a New Audience, leaves behind a haunting afterimage of the struggle to make evanescent things—love and beauty and the art that celebrates them—defy life's inevitable endings."