Why did no one read Sonnet 18 for over one hundred years? What traumatic memories did Sonnet 111 conjure up for Charles Dickens? Which Sonnet did Wilfred Owen find particularly offensive on the WW1 battlefront? What kind of love does Sonnet 116 celebrate and why? Filling a surprising gap in Shakespeare studies, this book offers a challenging new reception history of the Sonnets and explores their belated entry into the Shakespeare canon. Jane Kingsley-Smith reveals the fascinating cultural history of individual Sonnets, identifying those which were particularly influential and exploring why they rose to prominence. This is a highly original study which argues that we should redirect our attention away from the story that the Sonnets tell as a sequence, to the fascinating afterlife of individual Shakespeare Sonnets.
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