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The Pleasures of Memory in Shakespeare's Sonnets


The Pleasures of Memory in Shakespeare's Sonnets

  • ISBN 13:


  • ISBN 10:


  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 01/13/2024
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press

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The Pleasures of Memory in Shakespeare's Sonnets uses Shakespeare's poetry as a case study for the mutually formative relationship between desire and recollection. Through a series of close readings that are both historically situated and informed by recent theory, it traces how the speaker of the poems strives for a more agential relationship to his own memory by treating recollection as a form of narrative.

Drawing together insights from cognitive science, the early modern memory arts, and psychoanalysis, John S. Garrison connects the Sonnets to the larger Renaissance project of conceiving memory as a faculty to be developed and managed through self-discipline and rhetoric. In doing so, he reveals how early modern thought presaged many theories that have emerged in contemporary neuroscientific and psychoanalytic understandings of the self and its longing for pleasure. The Sonnets emerge as a collection that contemplates the affective dimensions and conceptual overlaps that bind anticipation to retrospection in the fraught pursuit of erotic pleasure.

Indispensable for students and scholars working on Shakespeare's poetry, this study appeals also to a broader audience of readers interested in affect, memory, and sexuality studies. Shakespeare's most beloved sonnets are discussed, as well as less familiar ones, alongside contemporary adaptations of the poems. Garrison brings the Sonnets further into the present by comparing them with treatments of pleasure and memory by modern authors such as C.P. Cavafy, Toni Morrison, William Faulkner, and Michael Ondaatje.

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