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Shall I compare thee to a more expensive edition? Thou art more lovely, and cheaper...
on 17 June 2011
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.