The Book Known as Q

by Robert Giroux. Atheneum, $17.95. In considering Shakespeare’s sonnets, Mr. Giroux observes, “The truth is that we cannot assume anything,” which is as sensible a summary of the situation in regard to those poems as anyone can make. Speculation remains admissible, however, and Mr. Giroux speculates amiably on dating, factual background if any, and, most interestingly, on the possibility that the original edition so annoyed Shakespeare that he contrived to have it suppressed. The book includes a facsimile of that first, “Never before Imprinted” text.