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  • By Peter Jensen
    May 20, 2007
    "Shakespeare's Sonnets Reveal Many Layers" Review by Maggie Busto for The LBCC Commuter LBCC English instructor Peter Jensen hopes his recent addition to the wealth of literary work on the world’s most famous writer—“Secrets of the Sonnets: Shakespeare’s Code”— will intrigue those in the academic and Shakespearean community. His new book attempts to prove that Shakespeare included a hidden code in his sonnets that reveals the true names of the characters. He also claims that the sonnets are written to fit within a specific time period. Inspired by the curiosity of his students, Jensen was driven to examine the sonnets more carefully. He began to look closely at the texts and after reading each of the nine versions several times, decided to copy each version by hand to discover possible patterns. He found that there was substance to his assumptions. While in Europe over the summer he read books not available in the United States on Elizabethan spy code, which was used in... More > the 1500s by the Elizabethan Secret Service to communicate with one another. They used several types of code, but when Jensen read about one called the “substitution code,” he was shocked to see a possible correlation with Shakespeare’s sonnets. The message was encoded and disguised in letters and other print, then decoded by those who knew the specific word, which “named” the message. Shakespeare used the code and “name” as the word, which was the precursor to the message, Jensen said. But unlike the substitution code that the Elizabethan spies used, Shakespeare’s code is based simply on mystery and intrigue with a dash of humor. Jensen doesn’t try to prove that there’s a top-secret message encoded in the sonnets, but rather, the names of the four main characters are revealed. According to Jensen, Shakespeare wasn’t the only sonneteer to experiment with such a device. Sydney, Spencer, and other writers of the time also included them in their work. Jensen argues that the sonnets span a whole summer, beginning and ending with the days correlating with the theater season. He attributes the sun and moon with the young lord and dark lady respectively, claiming that each character has the characteristics for each celestial orb. His discovery in the sonnets isn’t the only place that is ripe for discovery, he said. He encourages students to look at all texts twice, and realize that there’s more to see than one would think. “You can read text by famous writers and find new stuff all of the time. There’s an air of discovery every time you read a piece of work,” he said. It’s that sense of adventure he hopes to instill in each of students.< Less
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Product Details

Peter Jensen
June 6, 2009
Perfect-bound Paperback
Interior Ink
Black & white
1.59 lbs.
Dimensions (inches)
8.5 wide x 11 tall
Product ID
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