Posted by Helen on December 01, 1997 at 15:22:35:
Just thought I would share this with you: from Katherine Duncan-Jones' Arden edition, just published.
She conducts a survey of the critical reception of the Sonnets through the centuries, and comments on how uneasy the homoerotic element in them has made critics. When she gets to the C19th, she quotes Wordsworth and Coleridge as around 1810 either dismissing or sliding over the Sonnets for this very reason. Then she cites Emma Thompson's use of the Sonnets: "Though this scene works well as a visual signal of the natural erotic and literary sympathy between the young people, it is wholly anachronistic, for in 1811 no such dainty edition existed, nor was relish for Sonnets at all usual in the early C19th." (p.78)
It's an interesting point. However, it is, I think, very likely that the "marriage of true minds" sonnet was accessible through anthologies, where it would have seemed a conventional love-poem.
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