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Chapter 5 - A Waste of Shame, 1901–1997

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 August 2019

Jane Kingsley-Smith
Affiliation:
Roehampton University, London
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Summary

In the twentieth century, the aftermath of Wilde’s trial generates a new interest in the Dark Lady sequence as a means of heterosexualising Shakespeare and his Sonnets. Their powerful appeal as expressions of male-male desire continues, however, in the work of Wilfred Owen, and the chapter explores the nostalgia and hostility which the Sonnets aroused among soldiers in World War I. Post-war, the Sonnets become a vehicle for modernist poetics through the work of Laura Riding and Robert Graves, and their citation by William Empson makes them central to New Criticism. Whilst the biographical interpretation of the Sonnets intensifies through the Shakespeare novel, the idea of the Dark Lady, focused particularly on Sonnet 130, opens up new possibilities for women and women of colour to re-voice the Sonnets at the end of the century.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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