Alongside Spenser, Sidney and the early Donne, Shakespeare is the major poet of the 16th century, largely because of the status of his remarkable sequence of sonnets. Professor Cousins' new book is the first comprehensive study of the Sonnets and narrative poems for over a decade. He focuses in particular on their exploration of self-knowledge, sexuality, and death, as well as on their ambiguous figuring of gender. Throughout he provides a comparative context, looking at the work of Shakespeare's contemporaries. The relation between Shakespeare's non-dramatic verse and his plays is also explored.