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date: 20 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

In an advanced undergraduate course on Shakespeare a classroom hour might profitably be spent on how editors deal with textual cruxes in the Sonnets. Sonnets 16, 23, and 147 present teachable examples of the kinds of complexity that the 1609 edition presents. The many important editions published from 1977 (Booth) to 2002 (Burrow) necessarily wrestle with challenges presented by 1609. Sonnet 16 provides a notable instance in which one’s understanding of the text turns on what one makes of a set of parentheses. In Sonnet 23 the question is whether to accept 1609 or to emend a possible compositorial error. And in 147 much depends on how one construes a single comma. The rich array of recent editions, including modernized versions by Vendler and Paterson, are examined. Working through a selection of editorial problems such as these should complicate and thereby deepen a student’s engagement with the Sonnets.

Keywords: Shakespeare, Sonnets, teaching, cruxes, editions

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