The Secret Drama of Shakespeare's Sonnets

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Gerald Massey's work of 1888 presented a strong argument against the many theorists who viewed Shakespeare's Sonnets as autobiographical - 'a permanent reply to Shakespeare's misinterpreters'. Beginning by outlining the known background and context of the Sonnets, Massey proceeds to wage what he terms his 'battle against fictions, fallacies, forgeries, and groundless assumptions'. Who were the Sonnets addressed to, if anyone, and what is the significance of the inscription in the edition of 1609? What is the correct arrangement of the Sonnets, and why did Shakespeare himself give personal testimony to their 'purity'? Following detailed descriptions of the many different theories, Massey provides close readings and analysis of the Sonnets themselves to dispute the autobiographical claims, and to demonstrate that the Sonnets are 'partly personal and partly dramatic'.