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A fascinating case for the identity of Shakespeare’s beautiful young man
Shakespeare's sonnets are indisputably the most enigmatic and enduring love poems written in English. They also may be the most often argued-over sequence of love poems in any language. But what is it that continues to elude us? While it is in part the spellbinding incantations, the hide-and-seek of sound and meaning, it is also the mystery of the noble youth to whom Shakespeare makes a promise—the promise that the youth will survive in the breath and speech and minds of all those who read these sonnets. “How can such promises be fulfilled if no name is actually given?” Elaine Scarry asks. This book is the answer.
Naming Thy Name lays bare William Shakespeare’s devotion to a beloved whom he not only names but names repeatedly in the microtexture of the sonnets, in their architecture, and in their deep fabric, immortalizing a love affair. By naming his name, Scarry enables us to hear clearly, for the very first time, a lover’s call and the beloved’s response. Here, over the course of many poems, are two poets in conversation, in love, speaking and listening, writing and writing back. In a true work of alchemy, Scarry, one of America’s most innovative and passionate thinkers, brilliantly synthesizes textual analysis, literary criticism, and historiography in pursuit of the haunting call and recall of Shakespeare’s verse and that of his (now at last named) beloved friend.
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