Shakespeare, Sex, and Love Paperback – 9 Feb 2012
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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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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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?).Read more ›