A Mirror for Lovers

A Mirror for Lovers : Shake-speare's Sonnets as Curious Perspective

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A Mirror for Lovers: Shake-speare's Sonnets as Curious Perspective, by William F. Zak, seeks to identify in Shake-speare'e sonnet sequence the structural and thematic features of the satirical tradition born in Plato's Symposium. In an effort to trace the power of Plato's discrimination of the true nature of love, Zak makes a case for the mutually illuminating relationship among the sonnets to the fair young man and the dark lady, "A Lover's Complaint," and the mysterious dedication that until now have never received attention as an integral symbolic matrix of meaning.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 610 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 50.8mm | 1,059.98g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739175106
  • 9780739175101

Table of contents

Preface and Acknowledgments 1. The Tradition and Its Individual Talents 2. The Immortal Word Made Flesh to Dwell Among Us 3. The Marriage of True Minds: the Bard and the Reader 4. The Procreation Group 5. The Civil War in Shake-speare's Love and Hate 6. L'Ora Beatrice 7. The Dark Lady: A Woman Colored Ill Notes Index
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Review quote

As Zak explains in the preface to his study of Shakespeare's sonnets (where he also explains the idiosyncratic spelling of Will-I-Am Shake-speare), readers will need a copy of the Quarto version of the poems in front of them since this book includes none of the full texts. This work joins other valuable, close readings and assessments of the sonnets (e.g., studies by Stephen Booth, Katherine Duncan-Jones, and Helen Vendler). The author credits the individual scholars in this long critical tradition, expanding on and arguing against some views and offering his own insights. He traces the structure and themes of the sonnets back to Plato's Symposium, through the Middle Ages, and into early modern England. Zak addresses "A Lover's Complaint" and the ambiguous "Dedication" of Shakespeare's sonnets in some detail. He analyzes a variety of subjects, including Shakespeare's conflicted views on love and hate, the procreation group, and his dark lady, and provides notes after each chapter to augment and document his research. Summing Up: Recommended. For comprehensive research collections. CHOICE A powerful new vision of Shakespeare's most important as well as most fiendishly difficult poems. It will renew the Sonnets for their present readers in the most moving and surprising ways. Zak does full justice to their ironic subtlety and yet, at the same time, and by means of a really original responsiveness to their 'perspective art', unfolds a beautiful and inspiring love-mysticism pertaining to our earthly lives, rather than to the hereafter. Unlike much academic criticism, this is a really lively book with something important to say to us. -- Ewan Fernie, Professor and Chair of Shakespeare Studies, Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham Clearly reasoned and jargon-free, this book offers many historical and critical insights that will enhance our reading of the Sonnets. -- David K. Weiser Ph.D, City University of New York
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About William F. Zak

William F. Zak (PhD, University of Michigan) is Emeritus Professor of English at Salisbury University in Maryland. Thinking and writing about Shakespeare's sonnets have absorbed the greater part of his working energies since his retirement from teaching in 2002. His previous work includes a study of King Lear entitled Sovereign Shame (Bucknell, 1984) and The Polis and the Divine Order: The Oresteia, Sophocles, and the Defense of Democracy (Bucknell, 1995). Currently he is completing monographs on Antony and Cleopatra and on Hamlet.
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