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Cox, M. (1982). New Poems by Shakespeare: Order and Meaning Restored to the Sonnets: By John Padel. London: Herbert Press. 1981. Pp. 286.. Int. R. Psycho-Anal., 9:494-495.

(1982). International Review of Psycho-Analysis, 9:494-495

New Poems by Shakespeare: Order and Meaning Restored to the Sonnets: By John Padel. London: Herbert Press. 1981. Pp. 286.

Review by:
Murray Cox

A book with such a title is as irresistible as a record-sleeve announcing 'New Symphonies by Beethoven'. And so is the invitation to the reader on the dust-jacket. It starts in this way:

Shakespeare's sonnets have been a mystery of literature ever since their publication in 1609. Who was the 'Mr W H' of the dedication? When and why were they written? How did they come to be published? Was their order Shakespeare's own or changed from his? And what had been the relationship between the poet and the young man he addresses and between both of them and the Dark Woman? Answerable or not, legitimate or not, these questions have divided scholars and all who come to know the sonnets.

Dr Padel claims to have found Shakespeare's original order of composition. Its proof rests upon the discovery that Shakespeare wrote for the young man 31 four-sonnet poems—unrecognized until now because ingeniously disordered for the first edition. The two pairs of sonnets that make up each poem are held together and linked to each other by a rich variety of bonds—sequences of sense and thought, developing images, and repetitions of words and sound-patterns.

Fascinating though the content may be, the curriculum vitae of the author is daunting to a potential reviewer—a classical scholar, a medically trained psychoanalyst with a special interest in the use of psychoanalytic ideas in literary criticism. A book review is inevitably in the nature of a reflection upon the responses evoked in the reader.

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