Thursday, March 4, 2010

So Long as Men Can Breathe: The Untold Story of Shakespeare's Sonnets Book Review

 So Long as Men Can Breathe: 
The Untold Story of Shakespeare's Sonnets Book Review

About the Book: In this lively, fascinating account of the publication of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, noted biographer Clinton Heylin brings their convoluted history to light, beginning with the first complete appearance of the Sonnets in print in May, 1609. He introduces us to the “unholy alliance” involved in this precarious enterprise: Thomas Thorpe, the publisher, a self-described “well wishing adventurer;” George Eld, the printer, heavily embroiled in large-scale pirating; William Aspley, the prestigious bookseller, who mysteriously ended his association with Thorpe soon after. Leaving the calamitous world of Elizabethan publishing, Heylin goes on to chart the many editions of the Sonnets through the years and the editorial decisions that led to their present configuration. Passionate, astute, and brilliantly entertaining, the result is a concise and vivid history of perhaps the greatest poetry ever written.

Our Take: Our views of Shakespeare these days are dim.  Why do I say this?  Shakespeare is taught in school, its in old English and its just not terribly interesting to the average person.  The fact is, William caused a lot of controversy back in his day.  He was no angel.  Shakespeare's Sonnets are amongst the most interesting of his works, simply because of the confusion and controversy that surrounds them.  

Author Clinton Heylin gives us a great account of life and the state of manuscript publishing back in the 17th century.  Apparently bootlegging was a big issue back then, much like the downloading of music and movies is today.  The sonnets were apparently not meant to get out the way that they did, if at all!

The reading in this title is surprisingly easy, considering the thick language of the subject matter.  Its almost a great detective novel, as Heylin uncovers facts and information previously unkown to the lay reader.  This book is a great read.   

Where to Buy: or the Da Capo Website

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