The Rhetoric of the Body from Ovid to Shakespeare

The Rhetoric of the Body from Ovid to Shakespeare

The Rhetoric of the Body from Ovid to Shakespeare

The Rhetoric of the Body from Ovid to Shakespeare

Synopsis

This persuasive book describes the complex, often violent connections between body and voice in Ovid's Metamorphoses and narrative, lyric and dramatic works by Petrarch, Marston and Shakespeare. Lynn Enterline analyzes what happens when Renaissance authors revisit Ovid's stories of violence and desire, paying close attention to the ways in which his subversive representations of gender, sexuality and the body influence later conceptions of the self and erotic life. This vividly original book makes a profound contribution to the study of Ovid's presence in Renaissance literature.

Excerpt

At the center of Ovid's Metamorphoses lie violated bodies. Sometimes ma, e, at other times female, a few of these ruined forms e, ude the grasp of gender and its reductive nominations. Fractured and fragmented bodies from Ovid's poem cast long, broken shadows over European literary history. Sometimes, these shadows fall back on the poem that gave them shape. As Quintilian put it when deliberating the frequently heard charge that Ovid's manner is too ingenious, there is “some excuse” for his invention, since so much of it is required if this poem's author is to “assemble” such extremely diverse things into “the appearance of a unified body” (“res diversissimas in speciem unius corporis colligentem”). That a poem fascinated with the fracturing of bodies should have been passed down through the middle ages and into the Renaissance, thanks to Lactantius, predominantly in fragments, a reordered collection of pieces torn away from their original arrangement, is one of the ironies of literary history that continues to echo and ramify. For it is not merely that the body's violation is one of the poem's prominent thematic concerns. As Philomela's severed “lingua” mutely testifies – her “murmuring tongue” designating both the bodily organ and “language” as such – dismemberment informs Ovid's reflections not only on corporeal form, but linguistic and poetic as well. An elaborately selfreflexive poem, the Metamorphoses traces, in minute and sometimes implacable detail, the violent clashes between the poem's language and the many bodies of which it speaks. In this book, I contend that the violated and fractured body is the place where, for Ovid, aesthetics and violence converge, where the usually separated realms of the rhetorical and the sexual most insistently meet.

I take my cue in the following chapters from Philomela's severed lingua,“murmuring on the dark earth. ” In them, I analyze the complex, often violent, connections between body and voice in Ovid's Metamorphoses and several Renaissance texts indebted to it. In addition to . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.