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So Long as Men Can Breathe : The Untold Story of Shakespeare's Sonnets - Clinton Heylin

So Long as Men Can Breathe

The Untold Story of Shakespeare's Sonnets


Published: 5th May 2009
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RRP $48.00

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.

The author of Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades (1991) and Bootleg: The Secret History of the Other Recording Industry (1995) concludes that an even more famous bard was both victim and beneficiary of "booklegging" when Shake-speares Sonnets appeared in 1609.Heylin alludes frequently to his hero Dylan ("the Shakespeare of his day?") and sees numerous correlations between the mysterious case of the Sonnets and the bootlegging of rock recordings. But he has also done his homework and presents in often frisky language some convincing answers to questions that have perplexed scholars for centuries. Did Shakespeare approve the publication of these intimate poems? Who was the "W.H." of the dedication? Who were the real-life prototypes for the Dark Lady, the Fair Youth and the Rival Poet? Did he write those last two weak Cupid sonnets? Or "A Lover's Complaint," that long boring poem published with the Sonnets? Heylin demonstrates a scholar's diligence and even makes a quick allusion to Jonathan Bate's forthcoming Soul of the Age: A Biography of the Mind of William Shakespeare. But the author has come to bury, not praise most previous scholars and theorists, including venerable Shakespearean A.L. Rowse. Heylin is particularly disparaging about the work of Katherine Duncan-Jones, editor of Arden's 1997 edition of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Only near the end does he credit Duncan-Jones for being "the first modern academic" to recognize that the 108 "Fair Youth" sonnets are "a sequence unto themselves." Heylin's primary complaint about most of the experts is their determination to make what few facts there are conform to preconceptions - e.g., that Shakespeare could not have been bisexual. The author nominates minor poet John Davies as the most likely candidate to have snitched the sonnets and composed "A Lover's Complaint."Will not endear Heylin to academics, but does disperse some smoke while fanning the flames of this fiery debate. (Kirkus Reviews)

Abbreviationsp. ix
Author's Notep. xi
(1590-1640) "The Darling Buds of May"
1609: "The Online Begetter"p. 3
1590-1603: "The Sweete Wittie Soule of Ovid"p. 23
1593-1603: "My Love Shall...Ever Live Young"p. 45
1609-1639: "Nothing in My Conscience... Did Need a Cypher"p. 71
1639-1640: "Scorn Not the Sonnet"p. 99
(1709-2009) "This Key...Unlocked His Heart"
1709-1821: "I, Once Gone, to All the World Must Die"p. 123
1821-1973: "Castles of Conjecture"p. 143
1841-2007: "The Division and Summing of the Chapters"p. 169
2007-2008: "Too Worthie for a Counterfeit?"p. 189
2009: The Little Red Notebookp. 207
A Select Bibliographyp. 227
Notesp. 233
Shake-speares Sonnetsp. 237
Indexp. 265
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.
Clinton Heylin

Clinton Heylin is the author of the definitive Bob Dylan biography Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades, among many other works, including Can You Feel the Silence? Van Morrison: A New Biography; Despite the System: Orson Welles versus the Hollywood Studios; and Babylon's Burning: From Punk to Grunge. He lives in Somerset.

Visit Clinton Heylin's Booktopia Author Page

ISBN: 9780306818059
ISBN-10: 0306818051
Audience: General
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 304
Published: 5th May 2009
Publisher: The Perseus Books Group
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.0 x 14.0  x 2.8
Weight (kg): 0.48
Edition Number: 1