Tag Archives: The Shakespeare Institute
Edited by Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor

3rd Notre Dame Wells Shakespeare Lecture

This year’s Shakespeare lecture in honour of Professor Stanley Wells C.B.E. was given by Professor Ann Thompson of King’s College London. Her talk was called ‘”You need not tell us what Lord Hamlet said”.: Have we heard it all?’ She begins by fantasizing about what it must be like never to have read Hamlet, and […]

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Honouring Professor Reg Foakes

Professor Reg Foakes, who died at his home in Stratford-upon-Avon just before Christmas, was a wise, liberal-minded, influential and much-loved Shakespeare scholar and teacher. His career spanned over sixty years at the universities of Birmingham, Durham, Yale, Toronto, Kent and Los Angeles. He was born and grew up in West Bromwich. His degree at Birmingham […]

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Sonnets for Advent 21: Sonnet 130

In this single poem Shakespeare turns the entire Petrarchan tradition on its head. Instead of praising an unobtainable beauty in romantic and conventional ways, Shakespeare looks beyond surface appearances to what’s really there in the person he loves. Her eyes are not full of sunlight, neither are her lips the best shade of red; her […]

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Sonnets for Advent 19: Sonnet 128

Flirtation, eroticism, desire and envy are all brought to life and woven together by music here. The poet watches the beloved (it’s not clear whether it’s a male or female) play a keyboard instrument and is captivated by the way his or her fingers seem to be caressed by the keys, leaping up to kiss […]

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Sonnet for Advent 17: Sonnet 113

This sonnet is one of metamorphosis, or perhaps alchemy. The poet’s eye is in his mind and causes him to shape everything he sees in the natural world around him into an image of the beloved (here formally addressed as ‘you’). It’s the same sentiment echoed by countless popular songs through the ages. I’m reminded […]

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Sonnet for Advent 16: Sonnet 106

On re-reading this exquisitely musical poem just now it made me think most of The Winter’s Tale and of King Leontes staring in wonder at the statue of his supposedly dead wife, Queen Hermione, who then comes to life before his eyes. He is almost dumbstruck as distant memories co-mingle with present guilt and grief […]

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Sonnet for Advent 15: Sonnet 97

This is the first of a pair of sonnets in which the beloved’s absence is compared to the seasons. Shakespeare here evokes winter, summer, autumn, summer and winter, and in that order – as though longing for the beloved disrupts a natural sequence of time. Autumn is ‘teeming’ with fruit which, because of the beloved’s […]

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Sonnet for Advent 13: Sonnet 81

Sonnet 81 itself is an epitaph and a monument in two ways. First, through the ‘gentle verse’ itself as written and printed, and as it will be read by future readers. Second, and even more powerfully, this verse-memorial comes to life whenever this sonnet is spoken aloud. The addressee – and, please note, there’s no […]

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Sonnet for Advent 11: Sonnet 75

It was quite a telling moment when our reader today, Professor Michael Dobson, and I chatted about how to illustrate this sonnet. The abiding and extended image is of a miser, struggling to find peace with his wealth. This is how the poet feels with love: somewhere between enjoyment and doubt. The gaze of the […]

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