Short Reviews by Kim Stafford & Three Others
Peter Jensen's SECRETS OF THE SONNETS
With this book readers have the chance to re-consider Shakespeare's poetry with a great teacher as well as an insightful reader and careful scholar. Jensen really wants his readers to see these sonnets in a new way, and to participate in the investigation he skillfully leads. After years of learning about Shakespeare from "pure" scholars who lived bounded by a single disicipline, I go into this book delighted by its combination of provocative literary analysis, number puzzles, original lines of inquiry, a friendly (and funny!) teacher's companionship, and an infectious delight in plumbing the secrets of these poems. Get out your Shakespeare, open Jensen's volume, and read two books at once.
Peter Jensen's work on Shakespeare's sonnets deserves attention for its own merits, not for how well his insights accord with the current orthodoxy accumulated in academic scholarship. Jensen, I know full well, worked for a decade on the hints he found of coded content in the sonnets. Like any good scholar, Jensen read whatever he could find that bore on the matter. He kept meticulous records of his own analyses, carefully constructing his findings over the years, testing his views as he formed them, reading his Ms to others and inviting responses.
This work will open up new dimensions for the study of Shakespeare's sonnets. It will also serve as an instructive example to students for what scholars can find when they pursue knowledge passionately.
Date Last Updated: 31 December 2009