Shakespeare’s Animals: Is There Anything It Is Like To Be Adonis?
Essays in Criticism: a quarterly journal of literary criticism
Oxford University Press (OUP)
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Lyne, R. Shakespeare’s Animals: Is There Anything It Is Like To Be Adonis?. Essays in Criticism: a quarterly journal of literary criticism https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.86098
This essay argues that Venus and Adonis deserves to be taken seriously as a foray into philosophical territory. When Venus acknowledges Adonis’ wish to ‘grow unto himself’, our attention should be drawn to the opacity of what human fulfilment is, and what its completion and purpose might be. The poem guides our thinking in this direction by being much more vivid in depicting the inward lives of animals and of Venus herself: where in this world is Adonis to be found, or to find himself? The substantial nature of this question, in contrast with the poem’s overall lightness, is put into context into relation to (i) modern discussions of the difficulty of inter-species ‘heterophenomenology’, (ii) scholarship on the human-animal boundary in Shakespeare and early modern culture more generally, (iii) Shakespeare’s principal source, Ovid’s Metamorphoses, which offers its own configuration of animals, humans, and gods. The outcome is a reading of Venus and Adonis that sees it reach positions on the problem of the human animal that recur more manifestly and portentously in King Lear, and makes a case for a flexible understanding of the profundity of Shakespeare’s early works.
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This record's DOI: https://doi.org/10.17863/CAM.86098
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/338685
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