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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: November ::
Poetic Will; The Herbal Bed
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.1187.  Friday, 21 November 1997.

[1]     From:   Norm Holland <
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        Date:   Thursday, 20 Nov 97 11:41:22 EST
        Subj:   New Book

[2]     From:   Mario Ghezzi <
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        Date:   Friday, 21 Nov 1997 21:39:49 +1100
        Subj:   The Herbal Bed


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Norm Holland <
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Date:           Thursday, 20 Nov 97 11:41:22 EST
Subject:        New Book

I'm writing to call your attention to a splendidly subtle book I've been
belatedly reading.  Here is the jacket copy:

<I>POETIC WILL</I> by David Willbern.  Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 1997.

The essence of Shakespeare, observes David Willbern, is in the details.
What matters most in our appreciation of Hamlet is not the staged play
but the play of language we find in the words of the Bard.

This book explores the expressions of Shakespeare's poetic will- his
sexual desire, conscious and unconscious volition, and posthumous
legacy-within the linguistic matrix that enfolds his characters and
readers.  Using a combination of psychoanalytic approaches, Willbern
rescues Shakespeare from the limitations and distortions of dramatic
performance by showing that his language, scenes, and characters are
propelled by the genius of this will and need to be understood primarily
as written narrative.

In these provocative essays, Willbern examines the deep analogy between
poetic creativity and sexual procreation as he explores the parallels
between Shakespearean and Freudian representations of fantasy, thus
offering readers a heightened awareness of the sexual and bodily
substrate of Shakespeare's language.  Engaging current debates between
psychological and social approaches, he develops new strategies of
reading in search for the limits of Shakespeare's language and our
responses to it.  He then applies these strategies to all of
Shakespeare's genres via detailed analyses of a comedy (<I>Twelfth
Night</I>), a history (<I>Henry IV, Part One</I>), a tragedy
(<I>Macbeth</I>), and a poem (<I>Lucrece</I>).  Additional essays
provide an overview of Shakespeare both as a creative agent and as a
body of work.  Questions of identity, authenticity, and representation-
especially as posed in <I>Hamlet</I>--are a recurrent concern throughout
the book.

<I>Poetic Will</I> frees the play of language in Shakespeare from its
illusory anchors in characters and resituates the experience of reading
his work within individual response and reconstruction.  Offering
practical criticism with a bold, American slant, it emphasizes the rich
potential of Shakespeare's poetic language while exploring the
interpretive and rhetorical limits of psychoanalytic literary criticism.

"David Willbern is one of our finest psychoanalytic critics of
Shakespeare.  His rewarding studies are rich in awareness of the play of
sexual language and in ideas about the centrality of identity and
representation."

--David Bevington, University of Chicago

"<I>Poetic Will</I> brings together Willbern's wonderful sensitivity to
poetic language, his supple and extensive grasp of psychoanalytic
thought, and his deep knowledge of Shakespearean texts.  The result is a
terrific book that tells one a lot about the plays, a lot about poetic
language, and a lot about the possibilities of psychoanalytically
informed literary criticism."  Richard P. Wheeler, University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

<B>David Willbern</B> is Professor of English and Director of the Center
for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Culture at the State University of
New York, Buffalo.  Since 1984 he has been a primary American organizer
of the annual International Conference in Literature and Psychoanalysis.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mario Ghezzi <
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Date:           Friday, 21 Nov 1997 21:39:49 +1100
Subject:        The Herbal Bed

I have just read <underline>The Herbal Bed</underline> by Peter Whelan a
play first performed in England in 1996. It is apparently based on
actual events which occured in Stratford-upon-Avon in the summer of
1613, when Shakespeare's eldest daughter Susanna was publicly accused of
having a sexual liason with Rafe Smith, amarried neighbour and family
friend.


I would like to teach it to my class. Would anyone on this listserver be
able to suggest further reading regarding the actual incident and/or the
play itself? Being relatively new I have been unable to find any
material on the play. As it is I had to order from the US for a copy of
the play as it was unavailable in Australia.

Thanks
Mario Ghezzi
 

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