Birth Passages: Maternity and Nostalgia, Antiquity to Shakespeare

By Theresa M. Krier | Go to book overview

6

Feasting on Language:
Love's Labor's Lost and the Debt
to the Maternal

It is Nature he finds, Nature who, unknown to him, has nourished his project, his production. It is Nature who now fuses for him with that glass enclosure [of discourse], that spangled sepulcher, from which—imaginary and therefore absent—she is unable to articulate her difference. Thus she allows herself to be consumed again for new speculations, or thrown away as unfit for consumption. Without saying a word.

—Luce Irigaray

The lords of Love's Labor's Lost, deflecting a frustrated appetite for women onto infatuation with the glass enclosure of Petrarchan poetic discourse, find that the ladies who represent Nature to them refuse to be consumed or thrown away, as in Irigaray's scenario. 1. If this is an old story, Shakespeare makes it new with his play's pressure of movement toward the rueful, radiant lyrics of Winter and Spring at the conclusion. How does this happen, and how does such movement refresh the old story about mothers and sons?

In Love's Labor's Lost, aggression overtly circulates among men; it is

____________________
1.
Luce Irigaray, “Volume-Fluidity” (1974), in Speculum of the Other Woman, trans. Gillian Gill (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1985), 227-40, at 228.

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