Coming on to Shakespeare: offstage action and Sonnet 20

Sinfield, Alan (2007) Coming on to Shakespeare: offstage action and Sonnet 20. Shakespeare, 3 (2). pp. 108-125. ISSN 17450918

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The death of the reader is celebrated and then questioned, in an attempt to defy hegemonic positions and, with some hyperbole and anachronism, to justify a minority reading as an ideal reading. Patricia Duncker's luminous novel, Hallucinating Foucault (London: Serpent's Tail, 1996) is helpful. A queer reading position may afford ideal access to Shakespeare's Sonnets. For once, straight commentators do not have it all their way; they have trouble accounting for a scenario of passionate intimacy, encoding confusion, frustration and bitterness; "shame" is a keyword. Sonnet 20, about how Nature has pricked out the Boy, is especially open to misunderstanding; critics generally have been reluctant to admit to insider knowledge in this field. (Indeed, impertinent analogies with gay culture today might be attempted.) Between Sonnets 19 and 20, figuratively speaking, something happens offstage to change the Poet's outlook. Why is it suddenly necessary for him to clarify, so emphatically, his relation to the Boy's gender, gender in general and the Boy's penis in particular? Where does it leave the Poet's passion?

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Depositing User: Alan Sinfield
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 18:51
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2012 09:10
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