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Shakespeare and the New Disease

The Dramatic Function of Syphilis in "Troilus and Cressida,</I> "Measure for Measure,</I> and "Timon of Athens</I>

Series:

Greg W. Bentley

This book makes several important contributions to our knowledge of Shakespeare and the Renaissance. First, Bentley's close and thorough analysis of the references to syphilis in Troilus and Cressida, Measure for Measure, and Timon of Athens illustrates how Shakespeare not only transforms a medical topic into imaginative literature, but more specifically it demonstrates how Shakespeare employs this «image cluster» to define and reveal major themes in the plays - sexual commercialism, slander, and usury, respectively. Second, Bentley's investigation of the imagery and themes in these plays provides evidence about their generic identity: rather than view these plays as traditional comedies or even problem plays, they should be looked at as comic or tragic satires.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Extract

INTRODUCTION 1 Chapter I. THE NEW DISEASE 7 Chapter II. "the poor agent despised": COMMERCIALISM AND SYPHILIS IN TROILUS AND CRESSIDA 41 Chapter III. "the vice o' th' top": SYPHILIS AND SLANDER IN MEASURE FOR MEASURE 101 Chapter IV. '" gainst the stream of virture": SYPHILIS AND USURY IN TIMON OF ATHENS 139 CONCLUSION 215 APPENDIX 223 BIBLIOGRAPHY 231 This page intentionally left blank

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