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date: 26 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter begins with the question ‘Who is speaking in Shakespeare’s Sonnets’ in order to trace the ways in which the poems map the relationship between love and desire. It examines the use of personal pronouns to negotiate positions that lie between the historical situation of the sonnets’ composition and dissemination and the reader who appropriates their voice. ‘Love’ is the outcome of engagements among the voices that speak through the poems, to which they respond, that are embedded within them, and which they make available to the reader. The sonnets offer a conceptual account of love and its relation to desire through the specificities of their address, in which three defining characteristics stand out: love’s projective capacity (‘love sees not with the eyes but with the mind’); its essential debt to time as a constitutive medium (‘To giue full growth to that which still doth grow’); and its concern with the singularity or uniqueness of its object, which is itself a product of its projective imagination (‘you alone are you’).

Keywords: sonnet, love, desire, pronouns, mask, persona, conceptual investigation, address

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