Cover image for Shakespeare on love & lust
Shakespeare on love & lust
Charney, Maurice.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Columbia University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
vii, 234 pages ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR3069.L6 C48 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Shakespeare on Love and Lust looks at the complex and sometimes contradictory expressions of love in Shakespeare's works - ranging from the serious to the absurd and back again - and argues that they arise primarily from his dramatic and theatrical flair rather than from a unified philosophy of love. Untangling his witty, bawdy (and ambiguous) treatment of love, sex and desire requires a sharp eye and a steady hand. In Shakespeare on Love and Lust, scholar Maurice Charney delves into Shakespeare's rhetorical and thematic development of this subject to reveal what makes his plays and poems resonate with contemporary audiences. The paradigmatic star-crossed lovers of Romeo and Juliet, the comic confusions of couples wandering through the wood in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello's tragic jealousy, the homoerotic ways Shakespeare played with cross-dressing on the Elizabethan stage - Charney explores the world in which Shakespeare lived, and how it is reflected and transformed in the one he created.

Author Notes

Maurice Charney is Distinguished Professor of English at Rutgers University and the past president of the Shakespeare Association of America.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Charney (Rutgers Univ.) provides beginners with an informative and readable introduction to Shakespeare's handling of the themes of love and lust, and advanced scholars with thoughtful new material. The excellent overview looks at Petrarchan love conventions--which Shakespeare both follows and mocks, particularly in the sonnets. He provides numerous close readings from Shakespeare's works, relating his reading to the Bard's own time. Charney is particularly good in introducing the unfamiliar reader to concepts of gender and homosexuality, drawing on the works of Janet Adelman, Coppelia Kahn, Carol Thomas Neely, Lisa Jardine, Mario Di Gangi, Valerie Traub, Bruce R. Smith, Gregory W. Bredbeck, and Jonathan Goldberg. The author devotes one chapter to love in the tragedies, a difficult topic: he points out that "because of the feeling that ... the lovers fulfill themselves in death ... only Othello seems to qualify." Chapter 5 concerns the enemies of love: all of Shakespeare's villains qualify here, exemplified by both Richard III and Iago. Chapter 6 concerns gender definitions, and chapter 7, homoerotic discourses. The last chapter--on Shakespeare's "riddling use of language in wordplay, puns, double entendres and sexual innuendoes"--brings this fine book to a fitting close. This title belongs in every academic library, where it will serve upper-level undergraduates through faculty. A. F. Erlebach; Michigan Technological University

Table of Contents

1 Falling in Love: Conventions
2 Love Doctrine in the Comedies
3 Love Doctrine in the Problem Plays and Hamlet
4 Love Doctrine in the Tragedies
5 Enemies of Love
6 Gender Definitions
7 Homoerotic Discourses
8 Love and Lust: Sexual Wit