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The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets (No CD) (Paper) [Anglais] [Broché]

Helen Vendler

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Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5  23 commentaires
35 internautes sur 36 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Shakespeare's Sonnets Anew 7 octobre 2000
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
In this invaluable book, Helen Vendler investigates what she finds aesthetically most provocative in each of Shakespeare's beautiful sonnets, i.e., the fact that Shakespeare, himself undertook the writing of the sonnets as a "writer's project invented to amuse and challenge his own capacity for inventing artworks."
The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets is comprised of a single introductory chapter outlining Vendler's own critical perspective and 153 individual sonnets, together with critical commentary. (Sonnets 153 and 154 are presented together in one essay.) Vendler's format seeks to restore "comprehension of the internal logic and old finery of Elizabethan lyric" which has almost completely disappeared from contemporary examinations of these sonnets. Vendler's book will help readers to better understand the language of Shakespeare's sonnets as well as uncover textual clues in a clearer and more deliberate fashion, leading readers to a greater appreciation of the power of language when manipulated by a master poet intent upon expressing the inner life of the speaker.
The author provides fresh and unexpected interpretation of the sonnets based on clear, textual evidence rather than through a dominant theoretical perspective. She also explores linguistic strategies directly from Shakespeare's own compositional acts and then constructs upon them an interpretation of the poet's duty "to create aesthetically convincing representations of feelings felt and thoughts thought." Vendler chooses to concentrate her efforts on Shakespeare's ability to accurately convey the speaker's own misery, torment, joy, wonder, exuberance, etc. within the mere fourteen lines demanded of the sonnet, that most structured of all forms of expression. She points out that it is in the "simultaneous marshaling of temporal continuity, logical discreteness and psychological modeling that Shakespeare's sonnets surpass those of other sonneteers."
Vendler then goes on to assert that Shakespeare, as a writer of sonnets, was seeking as many ways as possible to manipulate the form. His orchestration thus results in vignettes, musings and one-sided conversations with imagined listeners who do not reveal an extended hidden narrative or meaning but do "comprise a virtual anthology of lyric possibility."
Vendler invites the reader to participate in his own exploration of the sonnets. Unlike most critical treatises where the poems appear as a block in front of the text followed by an analysis, in this book each sonnet and its analysis appear together. The reader can formulate his own speculations and check them against Vendler's without even having to turn the page.
For those who want to listen to the beauty of these sonnets, there is a CD bound into the back cover of the book, providing an indispensable tool in helping readers to fully appreciate all the textual and acoustical clues--the allure de la phrase.
This is definitely not a book to read straight through, nor is it intended for the novice. Readers should already have some familiarity with the sonnets and those who do not should keep an annotated edition close by. Familiarity with poetic terms is also a necessity, since Vendler, a splendid poet herself, makes frequent reference to terms which are undoubtedly unfamiliar to those who are not frequently engaged in the study or analysis of the lyric form.
46 internautes sur 55 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 A Tough Slog but Worth It (Maybe) 3 juin 2006
Par Stephen Schwartz - Publié sur Amazon.com
Among the many good features of The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets are those mentioned by other reviewers: Each sonnet is printed in its original form on its own page and also in modern form. Each sonnet gets its own independent essay. Vendler's comments are illuminating on a majority of the sonnets. The careful reader will come away seeing things in the sonnets that they would not otherwise have seen. Her pointing to what she calls "KEY WORDS" and "couplet ties" at the end of each sonnet's discussion helps the reader to engage with the sonnets in a new way. I've put this book on the shelf with my other favorite Shakespeare secondary sources.

Nevertheless I have to wonder if the effort of working (and it is hard work) through Vendler's book is worth the agony. Some of the previous reviewers have pointed out some of the failings. The diagrams, of which there are many, were for me simply worthless. (See the review by Royal Diasticutis on this issue.) Also this is not a self-standing book. The reader who has not specialized in the sonnets needs another more basic text to use along side Vendler's. (She suggests several.) Vendler's editors should have insisted that she skip the diagrams and instead add more basic information. This would have made this book much more useful and manageable.

The main reason I found this book far less than pleasurable despite the beauty of Shakespeare's poetry is that Vendler is a very poor writer. I do not understand how someone who professes to love poetry and to devote her life to it can be such a tedious, stiff, and pretentious writer of prose. Vendler must secretly hate the English language. I quote a single passage more-or-less at random as an example (this is from her discussion of Sonnet 129): "The impersonal mode allows for the habitual incompatibility and the perpetual sequentiality of both models. The couplet ironizes both models, ultimately, putting both mutual incongruity and repetitive sequentiality in a larger cyclical totalization in which one is only the obverse of the other, both existing in a mutual temporal dependency, represented formally by the chiastic well knows and knows well." (p. 553) I realize this is out of context but trust me the context would not help relieve the ugliness of this "lit-crit" baloney. This is the style of her writing: "ironizes," "sequentiality," "totalization," and her favorite word used in one form or another on almost every page "chiastic." Vendler ostentatiously is given to using technical terms from philosophy and linguistics such as "speech act" or "deixis" and I question whether she is concerned to use them correctly or even understands their technical meaning. And on and on and on. Vendler could have accomplished all the good things and lost nothing if she had used regular English. I got sick of her overblown, pretentious, muddy, self-indulgent, phony technical writing (but I read every word of this darn book). I can only hope that the ghost of Shakespeare comes back to torment her soul for such abuse.

I wish I could distil all the brilliance and insight that Vendler brings to the sonnets and leave out all the useless verbiage and humbug. Reading and studying this book is like trying to pick out golden nuggets from a huge barrel of mud and gravel.
22 internautes sur 25 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Must-Read For Any Lover of Shakespeare 26 mai 1999
Par Michael Lima - Publié sur Amazon.com
Vendler does an excellent job of making the sonnets accessible and illuminating for all readers of Shakespeare. For those who are novices to Shakespeare's work, Vendler points out the patterns of structure inherent in the poems. To the individuals more familar with the sonnets, Vendler offers a detailed analysis of the words of the poems. The sum of these approaches provides both the novice and the expert with an appreciation for the depth and complexity of the sonnets.
Interestingly, Vendler does not often provide interpretations of the meaning of the poems. Instead, she chooses to provide the reader with an appreciation of the elements of the sonnets in order to allow one to make their own informed interpretations.
Vendler has created a book that mirrors the sonnets in that it can be enjoyed on many different levels. But, regardless of which level upon which it is enjoyed, the book is an indespensible guide into the wonders of Shakespeare's sonnets. Any student of Shakespeare needs to have this book in their collection of critical works on the Bard.
22 internautes sur 26 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A dazzling critical work and vigorous defense of The Sonnets 26 août 2003
Par J. Ott - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat authentifié par Amazon
This is a work of scholarship of the highest order. Vendler appreciates, for our benefit, each of Shakespeare's 154 Sonnets in mini-essays of three to six pages. Before each essay is the original 1609 quarto text and Vendler's own modernization of it, since the spelling and printing conventions of Shakespeare's day can be obscure to us now.

But this is not all. In a lengthy introduction, Vendler surveys critical reception of The Sonnets through the present day and argues persuasively for her own methods of interpretation. Her interpretations examine the poems on a multitude of lingiustic levels, from the phonological (sound) to the semantic (meaning, content). She avoids detailed analysis of imagery and socio/psychological implications, for the most part, since they can be had elsewhere.

Her aim is to show Shakespeare's poetic choices and illuminate the thought patterns that structure the poems. Sometimes she goes as far as to show possible lines Shakespeare could have written, but didn't. The effect of this analysis is that I finally feel I can approach these poems on a level that truly respects them. Thanks to Vendler, I understand why such lines as--

- Shall I compare thee to a summer's day
- My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun
- When in disgrace with Fortune and men's eyes

--and so so many more stick in my head, and have been so memorable to previous generations.

As accessible as it is for modern criticism, THE ART OF SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS is not an entry-level work. Vendler assumes not only familiarity with The Sonnets, but also with certain linguistic concepts such as "speech acts" and "deixis". It's nothing a bright person with a good dictionary can't get through.

Those who order the hardback edition will get the added bonus of an audio CD (which Amazon mistakenly lists as a CD-ROM) of Vendler reading several of the Sonnets. Unsurprisingly, her readings stress what she says should be stressed in the essays and are in the American accent of a Harvard professor, not in the phonologically reconstructed accent of Shakespeare's day (to hear this, try Accents by Robert Blumenfeld, which features a reading of Sonnet 29).

For English majors, poets, and people who love poetry (I hope the categories overlap) I cannot recommend this book highly enough. People turned off by Harold Bloom, Vendler's esteemed Yale counterpart, would do well to look at Vendler's less self-important and more textual approach to literary criticism. As far as I'm concerned, this is the definitive edition of The Sonnets, not likely to be surpassed in the near and not-so-near future.
39 internautes sur 49 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Well-intended, impressive, but to what end? 13 février 2001
Par Samuel Chell - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché|Achat authentifié par Amazon
At the outset Vendler claims that any comment on Shakespeare's sonnets that could be applied to a prose paraphrasis is not worthy of the name "literary criticism." From this position she proceeds to give a jargon-free, yet exceedingly dense and technical, linguistic analysis of the sonnets. Her readings are informed by post-structuralist as well as formalist criticism. The latter critics, however, always sought to demonstrate how meaning is a function of form, whereas Vender's commitment to structuralist and deconstructionist positions about language forbids her to talk about the "meaning," or content, of the poems.
And therein lies the problem. What if a film critic elected to talk about a favorite auteur with no reference to the material that could be gleaned by reading the script as opposed to viewing the film text? Imagine the result--an abundance of observations about shots and countershots, angles and focal distances, camera set-ups and lighting with no reference to anything but to the patterns and symmetry created by the combination of these signifiers. Without acknowledging the "metaphoric," "tropic" role of "content," a tool that enables us to talk about language in ways that make "sense," the critic is in danger of producing a study of language that is undermined by its own failure to accept the semantic and rhetorical uses of language.
I'm cheered by a work of criticism that attempts to rescue art from the "sociological" and "political." But Vendler's book fails to rescue Shakespeare from tedium and irrelevancy. While the book is useful for occasional "dipping" (provided the reader knows both Shakespeare and post-structuralist theory), it could do more harm than good if the intent is to help younger and less-informed readers bring the sonnets to life.
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