<i>Venus and Adonis</i>: Spenser, Shakespeare, and the Forms of Desire

Judith H. Anderson

in Reading the Allegorical Intertext

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780823228478
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823241125 | DOI:
Venus and Adonis: Spenser, Shakespeare, and the Forms of Desire

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Modern editors say that Shakespeare's Venus and Adonis was written 1592–1593. It is also the precise period in which Shakespeare is thought to have written Richard III, a play full of memories of the 1590 Faerie Queene. In Venus and Adonis, Venus switches from being a manhandler to being a pathetic mourner over the body of dead Adonis. This kind of switch becomes a major problem because it is hard to rationalize the transition specially when convincing. Although passion and grief are twinned conditions of wanting, the shift in this poem from an aggressive to a helpless, pathetic one challenges credible mimesis and human credibility. Instead of a mythic rationalization, Venus and Adonis is a seriocomic meditation on the landscape of desire or wanting.

Keywords: Richard III; Spenser; Faerie Queene; desire; wanting; Venus and Adonis; Shakespeare; poem

Chapter.  5329 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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