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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: July ::
The Order of the Sonnets
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1465  Friday, 18 July 2003

From:           Greg McSweeney <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Jul 2003 17:18:45 -0400
Subject:        The Order of the Sonnets

Hello, Everyone:

In the reading I've done on the Sonnets I haven't come across a
discussion of how authoritative the actual sequence of the poems is. I
don't necessarily mean which are addressed to the Friend and which to
the Lady--obviously content and thematic cohesion, etc. indicate that in
most cases--but what about the order of the poems in their respective
subsequences? Do we base this on the first publication? And do we know
by what authority the original submitter(s) of the Sonnets for
publication arranged them in the order we inherit, assuming that that
publication was unauthorized? Some groupings are natural, of course,
such as the first batch entreating the Friend to marry and reproduce,
but others seem fairly arbitrary. And do we have a best guess as to how
the poems went from private circulation into print? (These are clearly
neophyte questions, but as I'm admitting my ignorance, I know you'll go
easy on me, thanks for which.)

Greg McSweeney
Montreal

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