Taking cross-disciplinary and comparative approaches to the volume’s subject, this exciting collection of essays offers a reassessment of Shakespeare’s erotic and Ovidian mythology within classical and continental aesthetic contexts. Through extensive examination of mythological visual and textual material, scholars explore the transmission and reinvention of Ovidian eroticism in Shakespeare’s plays to show how early modern artists and audiences collectively engaged in redefining ways of thinking pleasure. Within the collection’s broad-ranging investigation of erotic mythology in Renaissance culture, each chapter analyses specific instances of textual and pictorial transmission, reception, and adaptation. Through various critical strategies, contributors trace Shakespeare’s use of erotic material to map out the politics and aesthetics of pleasure, unravelling the ways in which mythology informs artistic creation. Received acceptions of neo-platonic love and the Petrarchan tensions of unattainable love are revisited, with a focus on parodic and darker strains of erotic desire, such as Priapic and Dionysian energies, lustful fantasy and violent eros. The dynamics of interacting tales is explored through their structural ability to adapt to the stage. Myth in Renaissance culture ultimately emerges not merely as near-inexhaustible source material for the Elizabethan and Jacobean arts, but as a creative process in and of itself.
Agnès Lafont is Senior Lecturer in Early Modern Studies in the English Department at Université Paul Valery Montpellier III, France.
’This collection of essays adds much to our knowledge of the many ways in which Ovid, the sexiest poet of late Antiquity, influenced Shakespeare, the sexiest poet of the late sixteenth century. [...]One would like to think that this timely and important volume consisting of essays that are all of equal strength could encourage further research in the creative appropriation of Ovid in England through continental routes of influence, especially with a critical eye on how Ovid shaped fictions and languages of sexuality, and how crucial the impact of his writing was on the expanding notions of the body in early modernity.’ CATHIERS '... this is an inspiring and often-fascinating volume.' Renaissance Quarterly '... the collection will be of interest to scholars of literature, as well as scholars of the visual and plastic arts, whose geographic focus includes England and larger Western Europe. ... scholars will find that this collection contains many new insights and also points to new directions in the study of Ovid in the Renaissance.' Sixteenth Century Journal