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Shakespeare, Sex, and Love Paperback – 9 Feb 2012

4.2 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (9 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199643970
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199643974
  • Product Dimensions: 20.6 x 2 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 630,041 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

This eloquent, humane and balanced book wears its erudition lightly. In doing so it rescues its subject from the overbearing weight of cultural, political and theoretical baggage with which it has often been loaded in the past few decades. (Rob Maslen, TLS)

Well's subtly and systematically illuminates Shakespeare's acknowledgement of the glory and horror of what it is to be fully human. (Simon Callow, The Guardian)

Concise and elegantly written book. (Simon Callow, The Guardian)

Advance Praise: 'From bawdy and bed-tricks to same-sex love and the pangs of sexual jealousy, Shakespeare, Sex, and Love offers a magisterial account―by the leading Shakespeare authority of our day―of the subject at the very heart of the plays and poems. Its also a terrific read. (James Shapiro, author of 1599)

This eloquent, humane and balanced book wears its erudition lightly. (Times Literary Supplement)

He treads a precise and delicate path through Shakespeare's works (Rob Maslen,TLS)

Well-paced and informative book. (John Stubbs, Literary Review)

[He] captures a great deal of the diversity and freshness of Shakespeare's writing. (John Stubbs, Literary Review,)

He is an expert and highly readable guide to the highways and byways of Shakespearean sexuality. (Charles Nicholl, Financial Times)

This is not a long book, but it draws on Well's decades of close-focus research as a Shakespeare scholar and editor. (Charles Nicholl, Financial Times)

Deeply versed in the period, urbane and unflappable in tone, refreshingly free of ideological agendas. (Charles Nicholl, Financial Times)

Wells is an expert modern guide in terms of literary criticism and biography. (The Times)

About 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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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It is a undeniable fact that Shakespeare, beloved, respected, elevated Shakespeare, wasn't averse to the odd dick joke. Or more than the odd dick joke. In point of fact, both Shakespeare's plays and poetry are full of 'bawdy', as Wells calls it: sexual puns, sexual allusions, homerotic subtext - the only reason so much of it has remained under the radar is because Shakespeare is rarely graphic or obvious - as Wells comments, 'his bawdy is often indirect, metaphorical or allusive'. But Shakespeare is full of sex. After all, it was in <i>Titus Andronicus</i> that he gave the world perhaps the first 'your mother' joke -

Demetrius: "Villain, what hast thou done?"
Aaron: "That which thou canst not undo."
Chiron: "Thou hast undone our mother."
Aaron: "Villain, I have done thy mother."

This book sets out to demonstrate Shakespeare's use of sex in his work - both sex as it relates to lust and sex as it relates to love, sex as comedy and sex as tragedy and violence. Wells discusses sex in all its manifestations, with examples from the plays and the sonnets - sex both married and unmarried, sexual desire, sexual jealousy, chastity, whoredom and same-sex relationships, from both the male and female perspective.

Wells also takes not just a textual but a linguistic approach, exploring how different words and terms can be interpreted, how sexual allusions that may have been obvious to an Elizabethan audience can be lost on us and how terms quite innocent in Shakespeare's days may take on a different meaning today.

At one point Wells states, 'dramatic texts take on lives of their own in relation to the society in which they are performed and to the personalities of those who experience them.
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By therealus TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 23 Oct. 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a long-time student of Shakespeare, I'm now no longer surprised when a new angle is found on the bard's work: his use of language, his view of leadership, the influence of a particular house where he once lived. Sex and Love, of course, are not exactly new concepts in relation to the works, but I have personally never previously seen a study which treats them as worthy of a treatise in their own right, although judging by the bibliography in this one I just haven't been looking hard enough.

Stanley Wells here gives us a grand tour of subjects sexual and amorous as depicted by Shakespeare. There are the well-exercised ones such as the love between Romeo and Juliet, and the less well-aired possibilities and probabilities of homosexuality in the sonnets and in plays such as As You Like It and Troilus And Cressida. He examines the outcomes of sexual jealousy in the likes of Othello and The Winter's Tale, the way Shakespeare treats the subject of rape in, amongst others, The Tempest and Titus Andronicus, and not forgetting the brothels and whores of Measure For Measure and Henry IV, and also in this context the contradictory attitudes displayed in Pericles, the play which of them all leaves me the most baffled for exactly that reason.

Wells is as interested in the linguistic treatment as in the visual depiction, unpicking the utterances of Mercutio and Iago in order to access the subtext. In fact, the effect is as if he has taken a hydraulic jack and prised the lines apart, the better to read between them. In doing so he reveals the significance of a number of seemingly innocuous words such as "nothing", apparently signifying either male or female genitalia (who knew?).
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Format: Kindle Edition
Wells is a thorough and erudite reader of Shakespeare and this is a fascinating look at sex, desire and morality in his works. What it is NOT about is love. Because I am working specifically at this moment on the ways in which Shakespeare represents love throughout the works, I bought this. I expected a discussion of both sex and love, but really only found a discussion about sex. If that's what you're looking for this is a great book. But if you're looking at something centred on the many ways in which Shakespeare represents love, this is only marginally helpful. Good on desire, interesting observations on the hetero/homosexual questions, but not much here about love.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Stanley Wells never disappoints, such is his expertise on Shakespeare and on the work of his fellow Shakespeare scholars. I have some reservations about this one, in that it finds sexual puns a little too frequently to be altogether convincing; but there is a great deal to think about here, and dipping into deep Wells always brings up some marvellous fresh ideas. Keep your Complete Works at hand as you read, so that you can immediately see the (numerous) quotations in context. Well(s) worth the money.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent take on Shakespeare's attitudes to sex and love.
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