160 pages, 4” x 7”, preface, index
In Shakespearean Variations, Ralph McInerny takes the first lines of the sonnets and their end rhymes, and composes sonnets of his own. The formal structure of the sonnet has always provided a salutary discipline for the poet – iambic pentameter, the delicate symmetry of octet and sextet, the closing couplet which epitomizes the poem. The stamp that Shakespeare put upon the form, the themes of love and death, age and youth, loyalty and betrayal, have come to seem to adhere to the very form.
The pleasure to be had from reading Shakespearean Variations will vary with one’s acquaintance with the originals but should always turn one to the bard himself.
“It’s not fair that Ralph McInerny gets to have so much fun. Borrowing the opening line of each of Shakespeare’s sonnets, he runs off – in accurate Shakesperian form – a froth of parody, literary inter-pretation, comedy, and wisdom. All of McInerny is here: the philosopher from Notre Dame, the social commentator, the inveterate punster, the storyteller whose famous mystery novels proved his sharp eye for human foibles. Others abide our question – so how come Ralph McInerny alone gets to be so free?” — J. Bottum, Books & Arts Editor, The Weekly Standard
“Shakespearean Variations is what you get when do a three-way cross of William Shakespeare, John Donne, and G. K. Chesterton – and then add a heaping tablespoon of the Occam’s Razor-sharp wit of Ralph McInerny himself. The sonnets are funny, devout, and often as amorous as those of the Bard.
‘My love, come warm and reasoning to me, / And then entwined I’ll syllogize with thee.’ Yes!” – Charlotte Allen, Catholic page producer for Beliefnet.com and author of The Human Christ.