The sonnets appear to have attracted little attention when first published in 1609, and they have not always enjoyed the high reputation they do today. Indeed, the sonnets were reprinted only once during the seventeenth century; and it is possible that the original edition was withdrawn by Thomas Thorpe, the publisher, perhaps after a complaint by members of the aristocracy about the intimate nature of the love portrayed in some of the sonnets. However, this cannot be known for certain.
In the eighteenth century most readers regarded the sonnets as inferior to the plays of...
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