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Shakespeare and the Idea of the Book$
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Charlotte Scott

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199212101

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199212101.001.0001

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‘Sad stories chanced in the times of old’: The Book in Performance in Titus Andronicus and Cymbeline

‘Sad stories chanced in the times of old’: The Book in Performance in Titus Andronicus and Cymbeline

Chapter:
(p.26) 2 ‘Sad stories chanced in the times of old’: The Book in Performance in Titus Andronicus and Cymbeline
Source:
Shakespeare and the Idea of the Book
Author(s):

Charlotte Scott (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199212101.003.0002

Within the sum of William Shakespeare’s drama, a specific material book appears in only two plays, Titus Andronicus and Cymbeline. In both plays it is Ovid’s Metamorphoses, and the text is the rape of Philomel. Ostensibly, Metamorphoses fulfils a similar function in both plays, tracing the shadows of the woman’s plight in actuality or potential. Although Titus Andronicus is replete with allusions, the idea of the book first materializes in the context of both sympathy and diversion. Titus’s analogy to the ‘begging’ hermit’s prayers represents his commitment to Lavinia as one of silent devotion bound by a body and a text. Meaning begins to become enmeshed in a developing relationship between the gesture and the sign, which is rooted in the narrative of Lavinia’s body. Whereas in Titus, the text is realized in transgressing the material and perverting the reader, in Cymbeline constructions of reading are normalized through the triumph of life over art.

Keywords:   William Shakespeare, book, metaphors, Titus Andronicus, Cymbeline, drama, plays, Metamorphoses

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