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This is a review of the 2011 edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets published by the Royal Shakespeare Company, based in Stratford-upon-Avon.

This pocket-sized soft-cover volume is beautifully produced on quality paper and the ideal small gift. The 154 sonnets are offered one-per-page which allows focussed reading free of distraction.

The striking cover image of the heart of a red rose is perfect for the subject matter. There is a 9-page foreword penned by Fiona Shaw, followed by a 7-page introduction by Jonathan Bate, and then it's straight into the sonnets.

The only issue for some readers might be that the numbering sequence differs from that used traditionally because the compilers (Bate and Rasmussen) have attempted to apply the results of academic research to place the sonnets in the chronological order as they are now thought to have been written. Since there is no index of first lines, finding your favourites is difficult initially, as you have to read through them all to find out which number has been allocated to it. However you soon become familiar with the sequencing and you can enjoy these timeless gems exploring the heart of human experience as Shakespeare discourses on love, obsession, life and death, ageing and the way our experiences with relationships (two in particular in Shakespeare's case are explored) affect us.

This fine edition is a snip at the price and if you don't have a copy of the sonnets, this would be a good choice to buy.
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VINE VOICEon 8 February 2009
The Dover Thrift edition of Shakespeare's sonnets contains all his sonnets with no adornment, no commentary, and no "translation". All it contains is the great man's words - what more do you need ? There is a very brief introduction and a short glossary of some word meanings, but nothing compared to the analysis and commentary you get in other editions. It is a slim book on fairly cheap paper - easy to carry about with you; and what do you expect for £1.25 ? I love it !
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William Shakespeare is best known as a playwright. When you think of Shakespeare, you automatically think of plays -- "Romeo and Juliet," "Macbeth," "Hamlet," etc.

But he was also a poet of considerable skill. And while he sprinkled his various plays with poetry and songs, his poems are best appreciated when they're read all by themselves -- particularly the cluster of brilliant "Sonnets" that he penned. These works just have a unique, hauntingly vivid flavour of their own.

Each sonnet has no title, and is simply identified by numbers. And while Shakespeare's love poems are the best known of these works, he addresses different themes in theme -- old age, writer's block loneliness, the cruelty of the world, sex, beauty, a mysterious rival poet, and Shakespeare's own complicated romantic feelings (love that "looks upon tempests and is not shaken").

And these poems are absolutely lovely. Some of these sonnets are pretty well-known ("Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?/Thou art more lovely and more temperate") but most of them are a little more obscure. They have vivid metaphors and imagery ("let not winter's ragged hand deface," "gold candles fix'd in heaven's air") and hauntingly lovely passages ("What is your substance, whereof are you made,/That millions of strange shadows on you tend?").

And these sonnets really give you new insights into Shakespeare as a person -- he feels uncertainty, passionate love, unhappiness, lust and quirky humor. But while it's obvious these sonnets were deeply personal, they can still be appreciated on their own, particularly as love poetry.

William Shakespeare's "Sonnets" are rich with meaning, language and atmosphere -- the Elizabethan English takes a little deciphering, but it's well worth it.
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on 29 June 2014
Shakespeare's sonnets are a must for anyone interested in classical literature and this is a lovely simple edition that's small and easy to carry around for dipping into. It's not annotated so I wouldn't recommend this for academic study but for someone wanting to keep these beautiful words to hand this is just gorgeous.
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on 15 September 2014
This rating is not judge of Shakespeare's writing, as I feel he has been reviewed so many times by this point, I don't feel have much more to add, instead I would judge this copy.

I will admit, I bought this copy solely for the cheap price, but it does feel very cheap. The paper quality is poor, the layout, with multiple sonnets per page is rather disappointing.
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on 22 January 2011
I bought this audio version of Shakespeake's Sonnets for my husband, who wanted to hear what they would sound like when read out loud. In my view, the reader of this version reads them without any emotion, and not as I would expect them to be read, and certainly not as I would read them myself.
For this reason, I found this this version most disappointing.
It would perhaps suit suit students learning English as a foreign language, as the enunciation is clear and slow.
Overall a disappointing purchase.
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on 1 October 2013
What can I say? If there are Shakespeare groupies out there then I am one. It is fantastic to have the sonnets in such a portable form as the printed editions are not something you would have in your pocket or handbag. I still like the paper books for on the settee but this gives instant access.
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on 10 October 2014
Brilliant copy for any kind of academic study. Rex Gibson provides a key of words at the bottom to describe any words that may have undergone lexical change with a commentary/description that can be used as a critical view in an essay. The copy also tries to contextualise the sonnets, describing the sequence and background to each that was written. There is also the occasional picture which helps to illustrate the meaning of the sonnets and heighten understanding, important for such a difficult, complex form of poetry.
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on 3 January 2013
For a well presented 'budget' version of the Sonnets, this is just right. It is a useful size, eminently 'portable' for study if you are not fortunate enough to have a Kindle, decent print size and quality. It's not a 'keeper' version as the binding and paper quality are not wonderful, but it is a useful introductory or study option.
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on 26 November 2012
La temática de los sonetos de William Shakespeare va más allá del amor cortés y toca temas como el sexo, la política y las rivalidades literarias. Shakespeare no innovó en cuanto a forma, pues el verso llamado "shakesperiano" no fue invención suya, pero si lo hizo en el tratamiento de los temas, como podemos apreciar en el soneto número 130 con una descripción de su amada que se haya lejos del ideal de la madona de Petrarca, o en el soneto número uno, donde se compara el amor con el hambre.
Ríos de tinta se han vertido sobre las figuras que se encuentran detrás de los misteriosos "fair youth" y "dark lady", se ha querido ver en ellos a personalidades de la época como William Herbet, a quien dedicó alguna de sus primeras obras, o a Henrey Wriothesley como el joven misterioso y como la dama terrible a Emilia Lanier o a Mary Fitton, pero como otros muchos detalles de la vida del autor, existen más teorías que certezas.

La edición que nos ocupa hoy es de reducido tamaño, el justo para albergar un soneto en cada página, con una primorosa presentación: tapa dura, con un punto de lectura en escarlata y filigrana dorada en su papel de biblia. Perfecto para contener poemas. La única pega que se le puede encontrar es lo suave del papel y la falta de anotaciones, pero para ello es más recomendable adquirir una edición como las de Arden.
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