This essay draws upon the work of Erving Goffman and Michael Silverstein to read Shakespeare’s first poem as a guide to mastering the burgeoning early modern art of conversation. The epyllion follows the conversation manuals of its day in embracing the aphorism as a charismatic form of talk, but it departs from its precedents in attributing to the aphorism an overtly erotic force. By according to the aphorism the power to turn conversation into an erotic encounter, Venus and Adonis elaborates its period’s most seductive fantasy of talk.
Talk That Talk: Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis and the Seductions of a Form
MATTHEW HUNTER is Assistant Professor of English at Texas Tech University. He has just completed the manuscript of his first book, The Pursuit of Style in Early Modern Drama, which studies the panoply of styles that early modern plays codified as scripts for interacting in a newly public world.
Matthew Hunter; Talk That Talk: Shakespeare’s Venus and Adonis and the Seductions of a Form. Representations 1 November 2019; 148 (1): 1–29. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2019.148.1.1
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