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Title:The perplexity of desire: Representation and poetic thinking in Shakespeare's "Venus and Adonis" and "Love's Labor's Lost"
Author(s):Murphy, Patrick Martin
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Wheeler, Richard P.
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Literature, English
Abstract:While examining and challenging the current thought that desire only exists in the alienated movement between anticipation and insufficiency, this study arranges itself around three or four sentences used in discussions about desire: the proposition, a statement judged either true or false; the taboo or prohibition, a denial that makes the forbidden more enticing; and the promise, a sentence that often requires an excuse. These sentences keep open grammatical and rhetorical possibilities for the expression of our desires (the desire to know, the desire for prohibited passions, and the desire for a reliable love), and they make it possible to work between Shakespeare's texts and interpretive discussions. Each chapter focuses upon one sentence and one Shakespeare work: the proposition in Sonnet 14 (and in the Copernican hypothesis), the taboo or prohibition in Venus and Adonis, and the promise (as well as the excuse) in Love's Labor's Lost.
By examining a reference Copernicus makes to Virgil's Aeneid and by contrasting Copernicus's introductory letter with Osiander's preface to the Copernican treatise, I trace the effect a scientific and representational definition of the real has upon the status of poetry. In the last part of this chapter, I read Shakespeare's fourteenth sonnet in light of Freud's notion of repression, Nietzsche's inversion of Platonism, and Derrida's description of the double mark to show how poetry uses (but is not used up by) propositions. The second chapter reads Venus and Adonis to retrieve skeptical deliberations often unnoticed by readers who assume with Coleridge that Shakespeare's narrator is a transcendental subject. I link Heidegger's theories of poetic projection with Roland Barthes's use of the figure in A Lover's Discourse: Fragments to revise readings about incest prohibitions in Shakespeare's erotic epyllion and of his Ovidian source. In the third and last chapter on Love's Labor's Lost, I traced the consequences of Navarre's edict, a wish for the impossible that functions as a promise, by joining Austin's notion of illocutionary speech acts, Paul de Man's discussion of confessions and excuses, and Stanley Cavell's ideas about intimate speech and acknowledgment with Nietzsche's and Heidegger's understanding of nihilism.
Issue Date:1989
Rights Information:Copyright 1989 Murphy, Patrick Martin
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI8924908
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI8924908

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