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Shakespeare's Sonnets (Yale Nota Bene) [Paperback]

Stephen Booth
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
Price: 12.50 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Sep 2000 Yale Nota Bene
Following a facsimile of the 1609 Quatro printed in parallel with a conservatively edited, modernized text, Stephen Booth offers an analytic commentary that ranges from brief glosses to substantial critical essays.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 574 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (1 Sep 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300085060
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300085068
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 4.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 356,169 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's preeminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". His surviving works, including some collaborations, consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright.

Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire and was baptised on 26 April 1564. Thought to have been educated at the local grammar school, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he went on to have three children, at the age of eighteen, before moving to London to work in the theatre. Two erotic poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece were published in 1593 and 1594 and records of his plays begin to appear in 1594 for Richard III and the three parts of Henry VI. Shakespeare's tragic period lasted from around 1600 to 1608, during which period he wrote plays including Hamlet and Othello. The first editions of the sonnets were published in 1609 but evidence suggests that Shakespeare had been writing them for years for a private readership.

Shakespeare spent the last five years of his life in Stratford, by now a wealthy man. He died on 23 April 1616 and was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. The first collected edition of his works was published in 1623.

(The portrait details: The Chandos portrait, artist and authenticity unconfirmed. NPG1, © National Portrait Gallery, London)

Product Description

From the Publisher

26th August 2000
'...this is the edition to knock most others into a cocked hat. Totalling 583 pages, it is the result of fantastically dedicated and thorough editorial work.' - Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Glorious! 31 Jan 2001
By A Customer
134 pages of sonnets in a book of over 500 pages!
This is surely the definitive edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets.
The poems are presented in facsimile with a modern version facing allowing the readers to attempt their own direct reading if they wish. The modern version has a British spelling slant - which I find gratifying!
Mr Booth is painstaking in his scholarship - attempting to give a feeling for the Renaissance reader's understanding of the poems as well as explaining the 'meaning' of the lines.
I cannot imagine a better edition in my lifetime!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stephen Booth: Shakespeare's Sonnets, paperback 19 April 2011
This standard work hardly needs a review. It has long been the best edition of the Sonnets. BUT I haven't seen
Helen Vendler"s "The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets", which is more recent and reportedly very good. Also I find
the paperback edition, though containing everything in the hardback, a bit disappointing in comparison; the notes
and commentary are in smaller type, the pages themselves smaller, so that the poems lack the generous margins they
get in the hardback (tho' the Quarto facsimile and modernised version are printed full-size) - and, of course,the

book doesn't fall open as invitingly as the hardback. But what can we expect from a paperback? (cardback, actually) However, it is very much cheaper than the hardback, which is also what we expect from a pb.
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Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
66 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Giving Shakespeare's words a chance to work their magic. 20 Jun 2001
By tepi - Published on Amazon.com
SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS. Edited with analytic commentary by Stephen Booth. 583 pp. (Yale Nota Bene). New Haven & London : Yale University Press, 2000 (1977). ISBN 0-300-08506-0 (pbk.)
Shakespeare's 'Sonnets' is a deservedly well-loved body of poetry, and there have been innumerable editions. For the enthusiast and student, however, it's doubtful that there could be a better edition than that of Stephen Booth. Originally published in a bulky (and expensive) clothbound edition in 1977, it has now been reissued as a fat though fairly compact paperback that will put it within reach of a much wider audience.
One reason that Elizabethan lyrics are so powerful and memorable, is that they were composed in an age when poetry was still linked closely with music. Elizabethans were often competent musicians, and many of their poems were true lyrics or songs. Often their poems were set to music, and all were probably composed while the gentle plucking of a lute or some such instrument was running somewhere through the back of the poet's mind.
Today we live in an age when composers are no longer giving us real songs, songs that stay in the mind and that can be hummed or sung when for some reason or other they rise into consciousness; songs that are always there when we feel like singing, and that can help cheer us up, make us happy, and refresh our spirit; songs, too, for both light and more thoughtful moods.
In contrast to this true type of song, what we seem to be getting today is little more than words with little or no meaning accompanied by noise, the sort of stuff that a machine could write and probably is writing, and profoundly unmemorable.
Shakespeare's 'Sonnets,' however, bring us a world of meaning. The whole of life is in them - its joys and sorrows, its passions and frustrations and torments - and all expressed in some of the most sonorous and beautiful English ever written, and set to powerful rhythms that deeply penetrate the psyche.
Stephen Booth's edition, after a Preface in which he explains his procedures, gives us not one but two texts of the 'Sonnets,' each of which is printed on facing pages : The Text of the 1609 Quarto (Apsley imprint, the Huntington-Bridgewater copy), and Booth's edited text with modern spelling and punctuation.
Seeing the texts exactly as they were presented to Shakespeare's contemporaries is an interesting experience. Some readers will probably love the antique spellings and typography, other may hate it, but at least we've been given a choice. And having access to the Quarto can lead to a deeper understanding of the poems.
Booth's incredibly full and detailed commentary, a commentary for the advanced student and the scholar, and which "is designed to help a modern reader towards the kind of understanding that Renaissance readers brought to the works," is set in a rather tiny font and runs to over 400 pages. Here, in comments ranging from brief glosses to full-length essays, will be found the answer to every conceivable question we may have about an individual sonnet, and much more besides.
Booth has incorporated four extended essays into his analytic commentary : 1. On explications and emendations of unsatisfactory Shakespearian texts (pp.364-72); 2. On the special grandeur of the best sonnets (pp.387-92); 3. On spelling and punctuation (pp.447-520); 4. On the functions of criticism (pp.507-17).
Following the commentary Booth has provided a list of Abbreviations Used in the Commentary; two Appendixes (1. Facts and Theories about Shakespeare's Sonnets; 2. Excerpts from Book XIV of Ovid's 'Metamorphoses'); a detailed Index to the Commentary; an Index of First Lines; and a section of Additional Notes. The book also includes illustrations of two title pages, and the incredible 'literal portrait of a beauty' on page 453.
It will be seen that Booth has set quite a feast before us, and probably one far bigger than many readers are looking for. Those who would prefer to have a version which, though still offering the original Quarto text along with a modernized text, but with a less detailed though equally sophisticated commentary which takes the form of sonnet-by-sonnet essays, might take a look at the far better produced and more beautifully printed edition of Helen H. Vendler ('The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets,' Belknap 1999).
Others might prefer to think of Booth's prize-winning edition as a sort of investment, which perhaps contains more than they presently need, but which they will probably be able to put to fuller use later on. In terms of its content, the Booth seems to me to be unexceptionable. In terms of its physical makeup, however, it leaves much to be desired.
Although it is well-printed, the paper is not of particularly good quality. The fonts used for the 'Sonnets,' though not large, are readable. But the fonts used in the rest of the book are so tiny as to make them tiring to read for any length of time. You will need very good eyesight and very good lighting to feel comfortable when reading this book.
To return to the 'Sonnets,' the fact that their lines stick so easily in our minds, and that the re-reading of favorites will soon see us having memorized, if not the whole sonnet then certainly substantial portions of it, seems to me proof that the 'Sonnets' are real sustenance for the spirit. They help at different times to to fortify our spirit, to clarify our own thoughts about life, and even on occasions to cheer us up.
As such, and whether we realize it or not, they become a kind of word-music that all of us need. So whether you go for the Booth or the Vendler or some other less ambitious edition, my advice would be to give Shakespeare's words a chance to work their magic. You may be surprised at what they can do for you.
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Definitive edition for scholars and advanced students 6 Nov 2002
By richardpinneau.com - Published on Amazon.com
Professor Booth's unsurpassed edition of the immortal Sonnets has an exhaustive consideration of all the issues that can perplex a reader, but it may proving daunting to beginning students. Undergraduate students may wish to begin with Katherine Duncan-Jones edition from Routledge (The Arden Shakespeare) or Burrows edition from Oxford. Advanced students in Shakespeare or English literature who intend to continue mining this ore over the years will find Booth's edition a precious resource for their library.
Rather than repeat the fine points in other reviews, allow me just to caution the reader about the change in the publisher's standards of printing (beginning around 2000): the paper gets cheap, and the binding too. I would love to support Yale University Press in its commitment to keep this edition in print. Unfortunately, if you are a serious enough student to value Professor Booth's work, you will be using this volume enough to need a better printing, and I need to encourage you to seek out a used copy of an earlier printing.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best available! 31 Jan 2001
By A.K.Farrar - Published on Amazon.com
134 pages of sonnets - 583 page book!
This is surely the definitive edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets.
I thought I knew the sonnets until I read this - and re-read and read again.
The poems are presented in facsimile with a modern version facing allowing the readers to attempt their own direct reading if they wish. The modern version has a British spelling slant - which I find gratifying!
Mr Booth is painstaking in his scholarship - attempting to give a feeling for the Renaissance reader's understanding of the poems as well as explaining the `meaning' of the lines. And his attempts are successful.
I cannot imagine a better edition in my lifetime!
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare is always a 5 star, However Print is Small & Smudged 22 Jan 2007
By Inspired Dribble - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Who is to judge Shakespeare? Here all I can question is the medium. I purchased this book expecting normal sized print as it is a dimensionally larger than average sized paperback. Ironically however, the print in this edition is rather smallish, compressed, and often smudged throughout the book.

If want want a scholarly text this is a good one. However, if you wear reading glasses and simply want to read Shakespeare's Sonnets in a relaxed way without squinting, you may want to look elsewhere.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shakespeare's Sonnets (Yale Nota Bene) 23 Dec 2007
By Sorella - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Is there anything or anyone to compare to Shakespeare? You can never just read Shakespeare or even begin to feel the passion of his Sonnets until you get to know him. This is truly a wonderful edition of his work and a perfect gift for the lover of his writings. Poetry such as this Elizabethan prose is no longer written , the emotions,passions,tragedies are from yesteryear but as magnificent today as they were so long ago when such expression was a way of life. An excellent addition to any collection of prose or Shakespeare.
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