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Shakespeare's Drama in Poetry

Alessandro Serpieri

Abstract


This volume presents for the first time in English a selection of seminal studies, originally published in Italian, on the dramatic potential of Shakespeare’s Sonnets, providing a crucial contribution to a recently revived debate on their inherent dramatic dimension. These studies long antedate the recent attention internationally dedicated to the formal and semiotic functions of the communicative structure of the sonnets, providing the basis for a new perception of their peculiar capacity to perform speech acts within dramatically defined situations. The first, longest, section, is dedicated to a discussion of the so-called ‘Sonnets of Immortality’ where the poet struggles with Time over the future of the fair youth, providing the argumentative premise upon which issues of mortality and loss, running through the whole collection, are defined in the agonistic terms of human defiance of Time’s destructive power. There follow two essays devoted to Sonnets 33 and 29, and to the last sonnets for the young friend, respectively. Here the poet abandons the battlefield of human mortality and engages with the tensions and conflicts of affection and moral duty against the backdrop of an intrinsically conflicting world model, showing a medieval symbolic universe traversed by incipient, yet radical, sceptical stances. These poems interlace fictionality and biography, constructing a lyrical drama where the I/poet features as an extraordinarily artificial, yet all too real, voice.

Alessandro Serpieri is Professor Emeritus of English Literature at the Universi­ty of Florence. His main fields of interest are Shakespeare’s poetry and plays, Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre, John Donne, Romantic and twentieth-century poetry, Joseph Conrad, T.S. Eliot, Samuel Beckett, theory of drama, translation studies as well as semiotic and performance studies. Former President of the Italian Association for Semiotic Studies and of the Italian Association for English Studies, he is a renowned translator into Italian of many Shakespearean works, including the Sonnets.


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