The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0682. Wednesday, 18 June 1997.
Date: Wednesday, 18 Jun 97 19:18:00 -0400
Subject: Re: Sonnets
I have here an edition of the Sonnets Published in London by J.M. Dent &
Sons Ltd., and edited by M.R. Ridley, MA, in 1935.
This edition contains a different order of the sonnets than the usual.
Mr. Ridley says he based the order of sonnets the theory of one Sir
Denis Bray (*The Original Order of Shakespeare's Sonnets,* Sir Denis
Bray, Methuen 1925). Ridley provides no details, but says that it uses
a "rhyme-link" - a purely mechanical procedure - which keeps together
sonnets that must be kept together, and separates none that have always
been recognized as pairs. I quote from the intro:
I wish to claim for Sir Denis Bray's order no more than
this, that by the application of a perfectly mechanical
criterion, which is in no way dependent on the
idiosyncracies of any editor, an order of the sonnets is
produced which makes them a far more coherent and
readable series than the order of 1609. And even if the
production of that order were a mere accident, which I
find difficult to believe, we might well be grateful for
an accident which so much enhances out pleasure.
Reading the book, Bray's order *does* make more sense than the original
(which is obviously arbitrary, and not Shakespeare's order at all).
Does anybody know anything about this? Has Bray been tried and found
wanting? Is there anything there, or is it just one more theory that
crumbled like dust the moment it was examined?