Batching Sonnets?

Over on the Facebook page (see that big button over in the left nav? Click that), Ashley has a question:

We’re getting ready to read the sonnets over at Shakespeare in a Year, and I’m wondering how to split them up into two or three manageable batches. Does anyone have suggestions?

Interesting question. I don’t think you can really split them up by Fair Youth / Dark Lady / Procreation in a meaningful way for this purpose, can you? The batches would be lopsided, I think.
I’ve told her that I’d post the question here, since the primary page gets more traffic than the Facebook page. Feel free to answer on either.

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6 thoughts on “Batching Sonnets?

  1. I'd suggest reading the first lines first in a batch of 150. Then read the second lines backwards from 150 to 1. Keep zigzagging until done. The last two batches will be easier that way–only 149 lines in each!

    More seriously, how about in alphabetical order?

    More seriously still, I recommend ten a day for two weeks–plus an extra five each weekend.


  2. The bonus in doing in that way, KJ, is that if you line them up in that zigzag pattern and then read down the left hand margin, looking only at those rows that land on a prime number, you get proof that Queen Elizabeth is the Dark Lady.

  3. Thanks for the suggestion, KJ! We do our "reading assignments" by the week, so we could follow your suggestion and split them in half over two weeks. I was considering the Fair Youth / Dark Lady splits, but you're right, Duane — it would be lopsided.

  4. I'm actually working on a show using the Sonnets as dialogue as we speak (it's an experimental company) and I do have a recommendation, especially if you have a deadline. Do not procrastinate, and then try to read them all in one day. If you really want to grasp meaning, I wouldn't recommend going over more than 5 a day.

  5. Read the first 17 as one batch. This is the make another you bunch.
    Then from 18-35. This is the getting to immortalise you.
    Then from 36-49. This is the you cheating s.o.b batch.
    Then 50-76. This is the take an Ovidian break batch.
    Then 77-90. This is the rival poet and letting you go batch.
    Then 91-114. This the one last chance batch.
    Then 115-126. This is the it's over FYM batch.
    Then 127-136. This is the getting to know the mistress batch.
    Then 137-152. This is the see what a biatch you are batch.
    Finally 153+154. This is the see love is blind batch.

    Then again when I did the sonnet marathons at the Rose Theatre I split them into 3 groups.

    best of british to you.

  6. I like Will Sutton's groups. They are small enough to be able to try to go into some detail. But I wouldn't do it alone–must have an annotated edition. I would recommend the New Cambridge by G. Blakemore Evans, if you don't want to spring for mine :).

    Next best method is all in one fell swoop, as Andrew says.

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