Synopsis: All of Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets and A Lover’s Complaint are coupled together in this Penguin Clothbound Classics edition, along with a new introduction by John Kerrigan. Kerrigan, in his introduction, explains the nature and history of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and places them in context with other poets of the era.
Review: Wow! Honestly, I will never not be in love with Shakespeare. I’d read mostly his plays and less of his poetry, so I decided that it was high time to change that. And was I glad I did. His sonnets are some of the most stunningly beautiful pieces of poetry that I’ve ever read. I’m not kidding. I want to write some of my own poetry now. I want to study sonnets and read all of his other works of poetry. I want to get married solely to use Sonnet #91 as my wedding vows.
If you’re new to Shakespeare, don’t fret! Give yourself a little free time, some quiet, and his words will course through your body like it’s your own blood. In all honesty, I was a little daunted by A Lover’s Complaint, since it was a lengthier poem–but, I’m pleased to tell you all that it was fairly easy to read and decipher. So, please, if you’re worried that Shakespeare is too hoity-toity and upper-class, don’t be! His works are true pieces of art that deserve to be shared with everybody.
As for Kerrigan’s introduction–also wow. I learned so much by reading the part that people normally skip. He discusses the themes of Shakespeare’s work–love, death, Time, Will–as well as places it in context to the other poems of the time. He discusses some of Shakespeare’s history, along with London’s history, and argues for not reordering the sonnets to make them more “coherent.”
All in all, this edition of Shakespeare’s sonnets and A Lover’s Complaint is well worth the purchase. It’s beautiful, academic, awe-inspiring. But be warned: this book is best read with a highlighter or underlining tool so that you can mark your favorite passages. If, you know, you’re into that sort of thing.