Choice Outstanding Academic Text
Award Winner for 2008

Table of Contents

Some of the topics considered in The World of Shakespeare's Sonnets include

The book also provides literary analyses of popular sonnets such as 18 ("Shall I compare thee"), 29 ("When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes"), 116 ("Let me not to the marriage of true minds") and 130 ("My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun") and  many others.  

Throughout,  The World of Shakespeare's Sonnets offers a sense of what these beloved poems might have meant to Shakespeare and his contemporaries--meanings that have often become lost to time.  For though the sonnets are among Shakespeare's most famous works, they remain in many way unknown.  Beautiful and moving in themselves, the sonnets also provide a window onto a time and place in which familiar things and ideas--including poetry, love, marriage, ambition, homosexuality and heterosexuality--had strikingly different meanings than they do today.

With the sonnets as a focal point, The World of Shakespeare's Sonnets engages a wide variety of subjects, including the relationship of the sonnets to Shakespeare's plays, the literature and culture of the Renaissance court, Renaissance views of sexuality and gender, and the place of literature in the world.   The book seeks to recapture for contemporary readers the meaning of Shakespeare's sonnets in the Renaissance and over the past 400 hundred years.

Each section of The World of Shakespeare's Sonnets shuttles between the poems and their lost history, which it explores through engaging stories and writings from Shakespeare's day to the present.  For example, the book shows what the popularity of the sonnet at the Renaissance court had to do with the new fashion of the handkerchief there, while its discussion of the sonnets' homoeroticism ranges from the love letters passed between King James and the Duke of Buckingham to what contemporary college students count (or don't count) as sex.  Along the way readers will also discover:


Choice Magazine

"The most realistically balanced, generally honest guide to these remarkable poems that this reviewer has encountered."  read more  

Jonathan Goldberg,
Emory University

"This is the book I would recommend to any novice and even to more experienced readers approaching the sonnets." read more

Nichole Lehman,
Chantilly High School

"This book will come in handy when I teach the sonnets." read more

Katherine Duncan-Jones, editor of the Arden Sonnets,
Oxford  University

"Matz proves himself to be a sharp and subtle analyst of individual Sonnets."
read more