Themes and Variations in Shakespeare's Sonnets
By J B Leishman
Routledge – 2004 – 256 pages
First published in 1961.
This study analyses Shakespeare's treatment of the universal themes of Beauty, Love and Time. He compares Shakespeare with other great poets and sonnet writers - Pindar, Horace and Ovid, with Petrarch, Tasso and Ronsart, with Shakespeare's own English predecessors and contemporaries, notably Spenser, Daniel and Drayton and with John Donne.
By discussing their resemblances and differences, a not altogether orthodox picture of Shakespeare's attitude to life is presented, which suggests that he was not as phlegmatic and equable a person as critics have often supposed.