When Shakespeare's plays were first performed, they were popular with everyone: they weren't classics yet or a requisite course to be suffered. The stories were good entertainment for the masses, with a bawdy streak a mile wide. Certainly Shakespeare's depth and insight into human nature was appreciated, but surely some came just for the dirt. Shakespeare's contemporaries didn't need a glossary to get the jokes, but we do. Thank goodness for Eric Partridge's dictionary of Elizabethan smut, so we can get the double-entendres, too. Thus, "hardening of one's brows" (The Winter's Tale
) refers to being cuckolded, "laced mutton" (Two Gentleman of Verona
) is a prostitute, "riggish" (Cleopatra
) means lascivious, and "groping for trout in a peculiar river" (Measure for Measure
) means copulating with a woman. With an essay on the sexual, homosexual, and nonsexual bawdy in Shakespeare, an index to the essay, and a full glossary of bawdry, Partridge puts the nudge and wink back in Shakespeare.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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