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Venus and Adonis by William Shakespeare

Venus and Adonis (1593)

by William Shakespeare

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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One of Shakespeare's narrative poems. It's been about a year and a half since I read it, but I remember really enjoying it at the time. It's beautifully written. One thing I found entertaining was the fact that Venus was so lustful and domineering over Adonis. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys Shakespeare's plays. ( )
  lizpatanders | Apr 4, 2011 |
According to Crispin Elsted, of the Barbarian Press, Venus & Adonis is one of two lengthy narrative poems written by Shakespeare early in his career, when plague forced the closure of the theatres and he took the opportunity to write something non-theatrical. This poem, The Rape of Lucrece, and probably the sonnets – or at least a good many of them – date from the early 1590s.

Having recently read Lysistrata, I was struck by the two different approaches taken by the women in these two books. In Lysistrata, the women refuse to have sex with the men until they end a senseless war (Hmmmm...are you reading this Mrs. Bush and Mrs. Cheney?); while in Venus & Adonis the heroine tries to keep Adonis from dangerous boar hunting with all that her love can offer. It worked for Lysistrata but not for Venus.

I love Shakespeare's use of natural imagery in the verse:

Fondling, she saith, since I have hemd thee here
Within the circuit of this ivorie pale,
Ile be a parke, and thou shalt be my deare:
Feed where thou wilt, on mountaine, or in dale;
Graze on my lips, and if those hils be drie,
Stray lower, where the pleasant fountaines lie.

As for this edition from Barbarian Press, it is out of this world. The illustrations by Andy English are absolutely beautiful. The setting and choice of type and the binding make the book a joy to hold and read. This was my first book from the Barbarian Press and I highly recommend a look by those interested in small private presses. The proprietor's are delightful and knowledgeable as well.

Venus & Adonis was shortlisted for the first Gregynog Prize for Letterpress Book Design, Oxford, 2005. ( )
1 vote jveezer | Oct 23, 2007 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Shakespeare, Williamprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Doebler, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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to Tonia, who showed me another side of love
First words
Even as the sun with purple-colored face
Had taken his last leave of the weeping morn,
Rose-cheeked Adonis tried him to the chase.
Hunting he loved, but love—he laughed to scorn;
Sick-thoughted Venus makes amain unto him,
And like a bold-faced suitor begins to woo him.
Here I prophesy,
Sorrow on love hereafter shall attend.
It shall be waited on with jealousy,
Find sweet beginning, but unsavory end;
Never settled equally, but high or low;
That all love’s pleasure shall not match his woe.
O strange excuse!
When reason is the bawd to lust’s abuse.
O! you did kill me; kill me once again.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 143850120X, Paperback)

William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616) is the most influential writer in English history. Shakespeare has been called The Barb of Avon and England's national poet. There are 2 narrative poems, 154 sonnets and 38 plays in his collected works. He began work as an actor and writer in London first writing comedies and historic plays. He later wrote tragedies. Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and Othello are some of his more famous plays. Venus and Adonis was written in 1593. In 1593 a plague closed all the playhouses in London which gave Shakespeare the time to write this poem based on a story from mythology. Venus is in love with Adonis but nothing she does interests him. Adonis says he will go boar hunting. Venus finds Adonis fatally gored by a boar and at that point puts a curse on love.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:58:42 -0400)

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