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ESPECIALLY APPARENT IN Shakespeare's late tragedy Coriolanus are the venerable concept and related imagery of the body politic and its corporate parts. (1) In this scheme, Coriolanus apparently figures as the brawny arm and sword of the early Roman republic (e.g., I.i.115, I.vi.76), (2) a powerful limb whose use is essential in wartime but problematical in peace. (3) Besides this primary function within the Roman body politic (one that significantly lacks an imperial head), the last two syllables of Coriolanus's name, as commentators on the play occasionally have noted, specifies that part of the human anatomy associated with the expulsion of waste. (4) In this respect, Edmund Spenser had set a literary precedent for Shakespeare. In book 2, canto 9 of The Faerie Queene, Prince Arthur and Guyon tour Alma's Castle, the House of Temperance, an allegorical model of the human body and its processes. The "liquor" that forms the by-products of digestion In editor A. C. Hamilton's words, the "Port Esquiline [was] a gate in ancient Rome, its anus as it gave passage to the common dump." (6) Sir John Harington, in A New Discourse of a Stale Subject Called the Metamorphosis of Ajax (1596), had identified and described the "doung gates" of London and Jerusalem through which dung gatherers and carriers transported their daily load of human waste. (7) Recently Jeffrey Masten, broadening the anatomical significance of Spenser's "Port Esquiline," has noted that Spenser's "passage thus associates the body part [the rectum] with the gate near Rome's Esquiline Hill, used as a pauper's cemetery in antiquity. Moreover, the Red Cross knight's exit from the House of Pride is via a 'priuie Posterne,' a 'fowle way,' strewn with 'many corses ... / Which all through that great Princesse pride did fall / And came to shamefull end.'" (8) The italics in this last quotation are Masten's, meant to indicate a Spenserian pun involving the fundament.

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