DO SHAKESPEARE’S SONNETS HAVE A PLOT? The Shakespeare Sonnet Project is appealing to me for a reason that goes beyond the light it may shed on an individual sonnet. A major issue, currently being hotly debated by eminent scholars, is whether the poems should be read as a sonnet sequence, in which the poems constitute an overriding narrative. An issue that follows is whether that narrative is autobiographical, shedding light on Shakespeare the man.
I have been reading the sonnets at bedtime along with other things in a stack of books beside my bed. And the way I read the sonnets is the way that they are presented by the Shakespeare Sonnet Project. I don’t mean simply that I have not been reading the sonnets in order—although I am in fact not reading them in order. I mean that so far when I read the sonnets I do not take them as part of a single narrative. They seem to me to be expressions of different moods that can be experienced by a variety of people at different times in their lives.
The Shakespeare Project when completed will present the sonnets as spoken by 154 people in different contexts.