In this course, we’ll talk about how to understand Shakespeare’s way of speaking and, more importantly, how to follow the story he tells in The Sonnets. We’ll discover that what look like problems turn out to be intrigues. Instead of difficulties, we’ll find questions. What’s going on between the characters? What’s going to happen next? Inconsistencies begin to look like real-life relationships. As long as we are willing to ask questions that don’t have definite answers, the story keeps flowing. And the last two sonnets, that have puzzled most editors, are revealed to be the moral of the story.
SUGGESTED READING:Any complete edition of Shakespeare’s Sonnets.(Should include explanations of difficult words and phrases with each sonnet.) Consider the Folger or Arden Shakespeare editions, or my edition, Shakespeare’s Sonnets Among His Private Friends. Optional:Elizabethan Sonnets, ed. by Maurice Evans.(This is a collection of Elizabethan sonnets by poets other than Shakespeare. It provides an interesting background and contrast to Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Good for sampling other authors.) Optional Alternative:Find the text of some sonnets online bySir Philip Sidney (Astrophi and Stella), Edmund Spenser (Amoretti), Samuel Daniel (To Delia) or others and read some of them.
Carl D. Atkins, MDhas published two articles on Shakespeare’s plays: “Shifting Heads to Solve a Crux in Comedy of Errors” Notes & Queries 2021;68 (4):400-402 and “Spiders’ Strings and Ponderous Things: Solving a Crux in Measure for Measure.” Studies in Philology 2010;107 (3):360-365. He has edited Shakespeare’s Sonnets: With Three Hundred Years of Commentary (Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 2007) only one of four variorum editions of The Sonnets ever published. He has also published two articles on The Sonnets in the journal Studies in Philology and the newly released edition of The Sonnets, Shakespeare’s Sonnets Among His Private Friends (October 2021).
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OLLI: the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College Partners in education with Williams College, Bard College at Simon's Rock and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts 1350 West Street | Pittsfield, MA 01201 | 413.236.2190 | email@example.com