How could Shakespeare have possibly allowed his sonnets — personal, sexual, and often scandalous — to be published? I advance my own theory to account for the printing of the most shocking book of poetry in the history of literature, and discuss the possibilities as to the identities of the alluring Young Man and Dark Lady. Finally, we consider the light that the Sonnets shed upon Shakespeare’s plays, particularly his obsession with gender ambiguity and androgyny.
Poems analyzed in this lecture: 17, 20, 135, 136
CORRECTION: In thanking my patrons at the end of this episode, I mistakenly referred to “Christopher Grant” instead of “Christopher Grady.” Apologies and thanks.
See all four episodes: Who was Shakespeare?
Full text of Shakespeare’s sonnets, searchable: www.shakespeares-sonnets.com/Archive/allsonn.htm
Suggested further reading: Katherine Duncan-Jones, ed., “Shakespeare’s Sonnets”; Joseph Pequigney, “Such Is My Love”; Lynn Magnusson, “A Modern Perspective” in Folger Shakespeare Library’s edition of Shakespeare’s Poems; Don Paterson, “Shakespeare’s Sonnets,”); Saul Frampton, “In Search of Shakespeare’s Dark Lady”; Macd. P. Jackson, “The Authorship of ‘A Lover’s Complaint,'” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, Sep. 2008
Here are the most popular ways to listen:
Explore more in the Myths of the Month Playlist