Desire in the Renaissance

Desire in the Renaissance: Psychoanalysis and Literature

VALERIA FINUCCI
REGINA SCHWARTZ
Copyright Date: 1994
Pages: 272
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7sn8h
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  • Book Info
    Desire in the Renaissance
    Book Description:

    Drawing on a variety of psychoanalytic approaches, ten critics engage in exciting discussions of the ways the "inner life" is depicted in the Renaissance and the ways it is shown to interact with the "external" social and economic spheres. Spurred by the rise of capitalism and the nuclear family, Renaissance anxieties over changes in identity emerged in the period's unconscious--or, as Freud would have it, in its literature. Hence, much of Renaissance literature represents themes that have been prominent in the discourse of psychoanalysis: mistaken identity, incest, voyeurism, mourning, and the uncanny. The essays in this volume range from Spenser and Milton to Machiavelli and Ariosto, and focus on the fluidity of gender, the economics of sexual and sibling rivalry, the power of the visual, and the cultural echoes of the uncanny. The discussion of each topic highlights language as the medium of desire, transgression, or oppression.

    The section "Faking It: Sex, Class, and Gender Mobility" contains essays by Marjorie Garber (Middleton), Natasha Korda (Castiglione), and Valeria Finucci (Ariosto). The contributors to "Ogling: The Circulation of Power" include Harry Berger (Spenser), Lynn Enterline (Petrarch), and Regina Schwartz (Milton). "Loving and Loathing: The Economics of Subjection" includes Juliana Schiesari (Machia-velli) and William Kerrigan (Shakespeare). "Dreaming On: Uncanny Encounters" contains essays by Elizabeth J. Bellamy (Tasso) and David Lee Miller (Jonson).

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-2150-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-2)
  3. INTRODUCTION: WORLDS WITHIN AND WITHOUT
    (pp. 3-15)
    Regina Schwartz and Valeria Finucci

    The literature of psychoanalysis is preoccupied with the literature of the Renaissance. Exploring homosexuality, Freud turned to Leonardo da Vinci; inquiring into identification and art, he went to Michelangelo; studying the creative process, he cited Ariosto; ruminating on the compulsion to repeat, he examined Tasso; focusing on mourning and melancholia, he went to Shakespeare’sHamlet; and investigating gender relations, he turned to the stories of daughters and fathers inThe Merchant of VeniceandKing Lear. Conversely, the writers of Renaissance literature were preoccupied with their versions of the inner life, concerns that would come to constitute the purview of...

  4. FAKING IT:: SEX, CLASS, AND GENDER MOBILITY
    • THE INSINCERITY OF WOMEN
      (pp. 19-38)
      Marjorie Garber

      Imagine the scene.

      Beatrice-Joanna, rummaging in her new husband’s closet, is desperate about the impending wedding night, since she has yielded her virginity, under duress, to the aptly named DeFlores. Now she fears discovery and disgrace.

      DeFlores, at her bidding, has secretly murdered Alonzo de Piraquo, her father’s choice, the man to whom she was first engaged, so that she is now free to marry Alsemero. To confirm the deed, DeFlores has cut off his victim’s finger with its ring and brandishes it before her in triumph. Welcome to the “other scene.”The Changelingis not a play that will...

    • MISTAKEN IDENTITIES: CASTIGLIO(NE)’S PRACTICAL JOKE
      (pp. 39-60)
      Natasha Korda

      At the end of Book II of Castiglione’sIl Libro del Cortegiano, Bernardo Bibbiena recounts the tale of a practical joke perpetrated at court, involving a certain cowherd named Castiglio who had been summoned there on business for a gentleman courtier. So “elegantly decked out” was the cowherd for the occasion, we are told, that despite his being accustomed to nothing save tending cattle, anyone making his acquaintance “would have thought him a gallant cavalier” (2: 85).² A glaring incongruity, however, impedes the verisimilitude of the cowherd’s courtly incarnation; an unmistakable Lombard dialect immediately betrays his rustic origins. Recognizing a...

    • THE FEMALE MASQUERADE: ARIOSTO AND THE GAME OF DESIRE
      (pp. 61-88)
      Valeria Finucci

      Instances of gender instability and sexual unruliness can be found in most Renaissance works. InOrlando furioso(1532), Ludovico Ariosto runs the gamut: he creates cross-dressed characters, makes women opt for ambiguous sexual choices, and has men adapt to same-sex sexual requests. Bradamante, for example, roams the woods dressed as a knight-at-arms, Fiordispina seems to long for other women, Adonio revises his sexual habits for the sake of money, and Ricciardetto coyly plays a woman for the purpose of being taken, literally, for a man. These transgressions titillate, however, rather than scandalize: whether a woman dresses as a man or...

  5. OGLING:: THE CIRCULATION OF POWER
    • ACTAEON AT THE HINDER GATE: THE STAG PARTY IN SPENSER’S GARDENS OF ADONIS
      (pp. 91-119)
      Harry Berger

      Ovid begins the tenth book ofMetamorphosesby telling how Orpheus loses his wife in the underworld and how it affects him: he rejects the love of women, institutes pederasty in Thrace, and begins plinking his lyre in an open field.¹ The promise of a Thracian Woodstock pulls in an audience of shade trees, birds, and wild animals, and Orpheus sings to them of boys loved by the gods and girls inflamed by hidden lust. These are the stories we read during the remainder of the tenth book. They are bound together by misogynist, antierotic, and gynephobic themes that reflect...

    • EMBODIED VOICES: PETRARCH READING (HIMSELF READING) OVID
      (pp. 120-145)
      Lynn Enterline

      Petrarch’s complex encounter with Ovid’sMetamorphoses, as Renaissance literary critics know well, left an indelible mark on the history of European representatives of the poet—particularly as that poet represented himself, or herself, as the subject of language and of desire.¹ In rereading and rewriting Ovidian stories, Petrarch necessarily worked through a relationship fundamental to theMetamorphoses’spoetic project: the mutually constituting, and mutually interfering, relationship between rhetoric and sexuality. Any attempt to account for Ovid’s place in theCanzoniere, therefore, will implicitly be commenting on rhetorical and erotic problems that ramify, extending throughout the mythographic lexicon of Renaissance poetic...

    • THROUGH THE OPTIC GLASS: VOYEURISM AND PARADISE LOST
      (pp. 146-166)
      Regina Schwartz

      Paradise lost is a poem in which everyone seems to be looking at everyone else—Satan, God, Eve, Adam, the narrator, us—and all the while, they are looking back. Throughout our reading, we are directed to follow someone else’s line of sight: through the eye of Satan, we “behold /Far off th’ Empyreal Heav’n” and we first see “this pendant world”; joining Satan’s gaze, we first view Paradise, eyeing Adam and Eve askance with his/our jealous leer. When the Almighty Father “ben[ds] down his eye, /His own works and their works at once to view,” we bend down our...

  6. LOVING AND LOATHING:: THE ECONOMICS OF SUBJECTION
    • LIBIDINAL ECONOMIES: MACHIAVELLI AND FORTUNE’S RAPE
      (pp. 169-183)
      Juliana Schiesari

      As an aid to feminist criticism, psychoanalysis can help bring out the gender relations in texts. As a critical partner in psychoanalytic interpretation, gender studies can reveal the unconscious forces at work in texts. As a focus of investigation, the Renaissance offers a privileged vantage point on the development of modern subjectivities and gender identities. Far from being anachronistic, feminism and psychoanalysis discover the historical roots of their analytical material clearly elaborated in works of the early modern period. As I have argued repeatedly, the triangular exchange between feminism, psychoanalysis, and Renaissance studies is one necessarilytransformativeof each of...

    • FEMALE FRIENDS AND FRATERNAL ENEMIES IN AS YOU LIKE IT
      (pp. 184-204)
      William Kerrigan

      As you like itis clearly less menacing than the dramas that surround it in the canon, including the comedies yet to come, and I treasure it for just this reason. Beginning withHamlet, though of course with prior intimations, through to theconsummatum estofTimon of Athens, plenty of stage time is given to what Wilson Knight used to call “the Shakespearean hate-theme”—poisoned idealism, anger at ingratitude and trust betrayed, misanthropy, world-hatred, sex-disgust, everything high and sweet collapsing into a chaos without distinction.¹ The Shakespearean hate-theme is a fearsome thing. Nothing and nobody stands in the way...

  7. DREAMING ON:: UNCANNY ENCOUNTERS
    • FROM VIRGIL TO TASSO: THE EPIC TOPOS AS AN UNCANNY RETURN
      (pp. 207-232)
      Elizabeth J. Bellamy

      It is only rarely,” writes Freud in “The Uncanny,” “that a psycho-analyst feels impelled to investigate the subject of aesthetics. . . .”¹ Here Freud, despite his reliance on Sophocles’Oedipus Rexand Shakespeare’sHamletas the “specimen stories” of psychoanalysis, would seem (coyly?) to suggest that there is no necessary and inherent point of intersection between literature and psychoanalysis. But Shoshana Felman has argued that literature, even more than simply having an unconscious that psychoanalysis then reveals, can, in its turn, serve as “the unconscious of psychoanalysis. . . that literatureinpsychoanalysis functions precisely as itsunthought.”²...

    • WRITING THE SPECULAR SON: JONSON, FREUD, LACAN, AND THE (K)NOT OF MASCULINITY
      (pp. 233-260)
      DAVID LEE MILLER

      My subject in this essay is the peculiar anguish of an insistent dream. It is hard to define this dream, for it has no one text but insists within the symbolic order of Western culture, sustained there by the mortal fascination of many dreamers. A cultural propensity, it seizes on subjects as the means of its realization. Yet if it has no one text the dream does possess a distinct character. It is the essential dream of a culture founded by Abraham and refounded by Jesus on the sacrifice of the son’s body to the Father’s word. It is a...

  8. LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 261-262)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 263-273)