Classic love poems with a modern twist
Foreword, By Stephen Fry
“James Anthony has done something I would have confidently stated to be impossible. He has ‘translated’ Shakespeare’s sonnets and he has done so with an insolent, loveable charm. You would imagine that anyone with the hubris or chutzpah to embark on such a project, daring to fly so close to the English language’s poetic sun, would plummet Icarus-like into the sea. Actually, he has ascended the brightest heaven of invention.
This reinterpretation of the cycle is a dazzling success. Reading the originals and Anthony’s versions side by side enriches both to a remarkable degree. I thought I knew Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets too well to need anyone to gloss or simplify them, but I was quite wrong. The complex, beautiful, disturbing, ambiguous and beguiling thoughts that Shakespeare compresses into his sonnets are worked by Anthony into the same exacting and rewarding fourteen line form but with an ease and fluency that makes you count the syllables to check he hasn’t been cheating.
Aside from the pleasure any reader can derive from this achievement, schools and colleges will stamp and cheer with unrestrained gratitude and delight.”
Sonnet 18, Retold,
read by Stephen Fry and Paapa Essiedu
James Anthony likes to write. Equally fascinated by twists of plot as poetic beats-per-line, he uses his unorthodox literary background to express a fresh voice across a plethora of topics and stories.
His current project, Shakespeare's Sonnets, Retold, is a contemporary rewrite of all 154 of the Bard's classic love poems. These literal translations – written in the traditional iambic pentameter and rhyming patterns of the originals – aim to breathe new life into Shakespeare's Sonnets by helping to reveal their complex beauty to the modern reader. Described by Stephen Fry as 'a dazzling success,' Shakespeare's Sonnets, Retold was published globally by Penguin Random House in November 2018, and is available all good bookstores.