Fall 1961 • Vol. XXIII No. 4 Nonfiction |

A Poetics for Infatuation

There will never be, I hope, by some chance of scholarship, any more authoritative order for Shakespeare's sonnets than that so dubiously supplied by the 1609 quarto. It is rather like Pascal's Pensées, or, even better, like the order of the Psalms, as to matters of date or interest. No one can improve upon the accidentally established order we possess; but everyone can invite himself to feel the constant interflow of new relations, of new reticulations—as if the inner order were always on the move—in the sonnets, the Pensées, the Psalms. Thus the vitality of fresh disorder enters the composition and finds room there with every reading, with every use and every abuse we make of them. Each time we look at a set of things together but do not count them, the sum of the impression will be different, though the received and accountable numerical order remains the same. If we complain of other people's perceptions it is because we feel there is greater vitality in our own; and so on

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