The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0934 Wednesday, 14 May 2003
From: Claude Casper <
Date: Tuesday, 13 May 2003 11:33:40 -0400
Subject: Shakespearean Masturbation
I just started the eminent scholar Thomas Laqueur's new 500 page book on
a cultural history of masturbation, "Solitary Sex."
Of course, I looked in the index, where I found the usual suspects, but
was surprised that there was no mention of Shakespeare, not to mention
No one is more erotic, more polymorphous, than our Swan, but I just
realized that I couldn't think of one purely masturbatory reference.
This rubs me the wrong way. Can you?
Oddly, this forum has not seemed to discuss this aspect of the oeuvres
of Shakespeare with relish. I know there is a contemporaneous thread on
the Sonnets in which how to interpret their sexuality is being thrashed
out, but that doesn't seem to even rise to the level of foreplay. The
Sonnets are the most sensual poems I know, "Bending with the remover to
One of my favorite [bawdy/sexual] lines is from R&J: "The bawdy hand of
the hour is on the prick of noon." Accompanied by appropriate gestures,
this caused an uproar at last season's Stratford, Ontario's Shakespeare
Festival, my performance coincidently filled with hundreds of uniformed
high school girls. Almost an image of masturbation, but true to an
abiding instinct it can be fleshed out more ways than one, the "bawd"
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