Shakespeare, Sex, and Love

Shakespeare, Sex, and Love

by Stanley Wells
     
 

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How does Shakespeare's treatment of human sexuality relate to the sexual conventions and language of his times? Pre-eminent Shakespearean critic Stanley Wells draws on historical and anecdotal sources to present an illuminating account of sexual behaviour in Shakespeare's time, particularly in Stratford-upon-Avon and London. He demonstrates what we know or can deduce

Overview

How does Shakespeare's treatment of human sexuality relate to the sexual conventions and language of his times? Pre-eminent Shakespearean critic Stanley Wells draws on historical and anecdotal sources to present an illuminating account of sexual behaviour in Shakespeare's time, particularly in Stratford-upon-Avon and London. He demonstrates what we know or can deduce of the sex lives of Shakespeare and members of his family. He also provides a fascinating account of depictions of sexuality in the poetry of the period and suggests that at the time Shakespeare was writing most of his non-dramatic verse a group of poets catered especially for readers with homoerotic tastes. The second part of Shakespeare, Sex, and Love focuses on the variety of ways in which Shakespeare treats sexuality in his plays and at how he relates sexuality to love. Wells shows that Shakespeare's attitude to sex developed over the course of his writing career, and devotes whole chapters to 'The Fun of Sex' - to how he raises laughter out of the matter of sex in both the language and the plotting of some of his comedies; portrayals of sexual desire; to Romeo and Juliet as the play in which Shakespeare focuses most centrally on issues relating to sex, love, and the relationship between them; to sexual jealousy, traced through four major plays; 'Sexual Experience'; and 'Whores and Saints'. A final chapter, 'Just Good Friends' examines Shakespeare's rendering of same-gender relationships.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Stow, a U.K. geologist and oceanographer, has for decades been gathering evidence from around the world to show what the earth looked like 260 million years ago when the continents had fused into one supercontinent, which scientists call Pangaea, with an enormous C-shaped ocean--now lost--named Tethys (after the Greek sea goddess). Destroyed only five and a half million years ago by the movement of continents, Tethys straddled the equator and formed Pangaea's eastern shore. Tethys was responsible for laying down many of our current oil deposits, not only in the Mideast but also off West Africa and eastern South America. Stow links the two most famous widespread extinctions to Tethys, claiming that the massive Permian extinction was caused in large part by Pangaea fusing together, accompanied by a dramatic fall in sea levels. Stow is not impressed by the widely accepted theory that an asteroid killed off the dinosaurs; he maintains that gradual changes in Tethys and other oceans at the time played an important role. Stow's level of geological detail will allow hard-core science buffs to get into his re-creation of a lost world. 15 maps and line drawings. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"The book is splendid in its range of investigating aspects of human sexuality, all in such convincing historical and cultural context—at once open to modern interpretation and keenly aware of early modern perspectives on the same points of contention...This book is a page-turner." —David Bevington, University of Chicago

"He treads a precise and delicate path through Shakespeare's works." —Times Literary Supplement

"Wells brings to the task all the skills of a great editor, formidable knowledge of the works and their contexts, and a cheerful tolerance for everyone's sexual habits." —New York Review of Books

"Elegantly written study...Wells's approach is elegant, clear, and refreshingly free from jargon"—Elizabeth Klett, Comparative Drama

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780191614699
Publisher:
OUP Oxford
Publication date:
04/08/2010
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Stanley Wells is Honorary President of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Emeritus Professor of Shakespeare Studies of the University of Birmingham, and Honorary Emeritus Governor of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. He has an extensive record of publications, mostly concerned with Shakespeare and his contemporaries.

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