Like many teachers, I'm not often in the position of being a student with a topic that I"m not all that strong on. That wasn't the case these last two weekends as I participated in a United States Soccer Federation (USSF) 'D' license clinic. The goal of the course is to earn a National 'D' coaching license, which is "introductory," as opposed to the 'E' certificate (not license) I earned last fall, considered "basic." My sense is that for the 'E' certificate, if someone finishes the weekend clinic, they earn the certificate. Not so with the remaining licenses. Competency must be demonstrated.
It's now time for another boring writing entry, chapter five of Shakespeare's Sonnets: "The Artistry of Shakespeare's Sonnets." Yee-haw. I'm going to keep attributions to Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells to a minimum, but unless something seems obviously like commentary on some notion of the artistry of the sonnets, it's most likely their ideas, "channeled" through my summary, to the best of my ability. That's for when I paste this into my blog. Here goes:
Each reading of the sonnets leads to a better sense of the particular sonnet being read. Once is never enough because the form is too dense. (Damn, someone wants me to play Elder Scrolls, a game Tobias has loaded on the computer. I thought I deleted all of those. I just ignore those requests.) This, the following is commentary, is hardly a surprise to anyone who has read Shakespeare, or much of anything, with at least a bit of seriousness. There is some focus on sonnet 76, as one that is more self-reflexive than some of the others, more about writing (as are a few others). 76 provides some criticism of the form within the form, but in self-deprecating in regard to the power of the form, and the particular poem and poet themselves. The form is part of the power of the sonnet. The separation between the persona and the poet is not desired in the reading of 76, but the question remains just how much of the poem is autobiography, how much is a focused collection, and how much is merely (as if any of them are mere) an artistic exercise. 76 focuses on the question of whether the poems are to be read separately or as a group, as a literary exercise or autobiography.
Chapter Four: "The Form of Shakespeare's Sonnets"
One of the big questions regarding Shakespeare's sonnets are whether they are meant to stand alone or to function as a collection, maybe even a sequence. Sequence is generally out of the question for most critics and scholars, most of whom allow for some mini-sequences Collection, maybe, but that depends upon what is meant by a collection. Are they all meant to be part of a unified whole, when they were written? Doubtful, again, according to most critics and scholars. These two concerns, to greater or lesser degrees, will remain fodder for quite some time, at least as far as I can tell.
The third chapter of Edmondson's & Well's Shakespeare's Sonnets, "The Sonnets in Relation to Shakespeare's Life," is brief, and based almost wholly on speculation, but none of it is presented as fact, but as a look at all the ideas that have been floated in this regard.
E&W write that many critics see the sonnets as representing Shakespeare's life, though inconclusively. There are at least four characters in the sonnets, the 'I' of the poet (though one could probably argue for a 'we' in terms of personae), the youth of the first few poems, the rival poet, and the dark lady (or ladies). Similarly, I guess similarly, at least one poem (sonnet 145) is sometimes considered to be a poem to Shakespeare's wife, Anne Hathaway based on puns (or seeming puns) embedded in the poem. Coun ter to this are critics who have a hard time reconciling the mythical Shakespeare with the man who appears to be the poet, the man who takes a mistress, a married woman at that, a man who is is sexually attracted to men and women, and so on. This shatters the idealized notion of The Bard that many have. It's messay, but what life isn't? Other evidence, thin though it is, has Shakespeare as an old man when the poems were written in relative youth (When that time . . .) or conversely, "My name is Will (136) and so on and back and forth and blah, blah, blah. Is he or isn't he? Only his hairdresser knows for sure.
This is the start of a summary of Shakespeare's Sonnets, a book by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells. There's a bit of commentary mixed in, though nothing particularly profound in any way, shape or form. I might clean this up for my Shakespeare students. Or, I might not.
The preface is brief. It points out that the sonnets provide an essential insight of Shakespeare's ability to represent the imaginative state of others. This is important in that part of the debate over the sonnets is whether they are merely his imaginative musings or they are somehow representative of his experience. Likely, of course, they are some combination of the two, though no one, at least as far as I know, can say just what that mix is. As any reader of the sonnets can tell you, at least a reader who has read and considered them, as opposed to giving them a quick skim, the sex, and gender, and sexual orientation for that matter. of the object of the poems, is often indeterminate, as is the actual identity of the object. Even when it might be clear that a particular sonnet is about a woman, and that another particular sonnet is about a woman, there is no indication that they are the same woman, or the same man as is the case in the first dozen or so of the sonnets as they are presently sequenced. However, what Wells and Edmondson suggest is that we can look at these poems in their various possibilities to see what is offered by each reading. It's not that we must read them one way or the other, but that if we focus on the poems themselves, and bring in the other issues as a lens through which we might read the poems, we can get a different depending upon the reading. That's the gist of the preface.
This video was produced by graduate students in a comp/rhet program at Boise State University. They presented at the High Mountain Region WPA conference.
Well worth the listen!
This "found poem" is derived from an Amazon.com Publishers Weekly review of Roddy Doyle's conclusion of the Henry Smart trilogy, The Dead Republic.
The History of Ireland
John Ford plans a film
Based on Henry Smart,
Sinn Fein triggerman
Reduced to sentimental pap.
Henry plans to kill Ford,
But callousness fades and he drifts
Into Dublin’s suburbs,
Aging in obscurity
Until a distorted version of his story
Becomes an IRA PR ploy;
A farce of Irish history.
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