After graduating from UCLA with a degree in English and a teaching credential, Bill Walthall returned to his hometown in Ventura County, California, to teach English and drama at Oxnard and Hueneme High Schools. Having spent a decade in the classroom, he took a year off to recharge his batteries, but was pulled into the private-sector rat race as a technology consultant.
In the last handful of years, however, he has rekindled his passion for literature and education. He launched his blog, The Bill / Shakespeare Project, where he brings not only a fun, accessible yet still scholarly approach to a play-by-play analysis of Shakespeare’s works, but also the latest and greatest in Willy Shakespeare headlines every week in his “This Week in Shakespeare” podcast.
When last we left our titular not-quite-lovers, in stanza 101 of Venus and Adonis, she had–upon learning that he was leaving her to hunt the boar in the morning–fallen to the ground, pulling him down onto her, and kissed him some more in hopes of changing his mind.
OK, so yesterday, I left you hanging, mid- (actually late-)section of Venus and Adonis. Adonis has just told Venus that if she’ll let him go, he’ll give her a kiss. She accepts, throws her arms around his neck in an embrace, and they kiss.
OK, so it’s been a while… and I can’t vouch for the quality of today’s discussion, but we’ve got to get back to the matters at hand, the matter being Adonis and the hands being those of Venus, in the poem Venus and Adonis.
When we last left our not-yet-(ever)-lovers, after Adonis has broken free from Venus, his horse breaks away from his reins and runs off to dally with a female horse; Venus corners Adonis again, and tells him that he should make like the horses do, and learn to love.
This week’s text-only Shakespeare news review NON-podcast includes Shakespeare tips, Tom Hanks, a departure from the OSF, and a new Hank Five. PLUS our usual recap of this week’s daily highlights in Shakespearean history.
This week’s Shakespeare news review podcast includes an upcoming “splattery” Titus, a WWI Henry V, a new source for Shakespeare, and an idiotic school administrator. PLUS our usual recap of this week’s daily highlights in Shakespearean history.
OK, after Friday’s bawd-fest, let’s slow things down a little with the next 28 stanzas of Venus and Adonis, ones that give us some bizarre description, a depiction of nature that is obviously a metaphor for how our titular characters should be (?) behaving, and more Adonis with “no no” on his lips and Venus with “yes yes” in her eyes.
[EXPLICIT CONTENT, ADULT LANGUAGE AND SOPHOMORIC SEX HUMOR AHEAD… SKIP IF EASILY OFFENDED.]
You’ve been warned: Get out now while you can.
Germaine Greer, lecturer and author of Shakespeare’s Wife, has claimed that due to its perversity, burlesque, and eroticism, Venus and Adonis was the Fifty Shades of Gray of its day. It certainly was popular–as seen in the number of editions published (16 before 1647). And Eric Partridge, he of the great dictionary Shakespeare’s Bawdy, refers to the poem as a “cornucopia of amorous phraseology” (Shakespeare’s Bawdy, Partridge, Eric. New York: Routledge Classics, 2001; page 48).
So the narrative poem Venus and Adonis starts straightforwardly enough: the first six-line stanza of rhymed iambic pentameter (ababcc) sets the table in terms of characters, conflicts, and themes:
Even as the sun with purple-colored face
Had ta’en his last leave of the weeping morn,
Rose-cheeked Adonis hied him to the chase.
Hunting he loved, but love he laughed to scorn. Sick-thoughtèd Venus makes amain unto him And, like a bold-faced suitor, ‘gins to woo him.
This week’s Shakespeare news review podcast includes a puppet Titus, a Shade-y Shakespeare, some Merry Widows, and lotsa Caesar reviews. PLUS our usual recap of this week’s daily highlights in Shakespearean history.