chapter  7
24 Pages

“Wanton pictures”: The Baffling of Christopher Sly and the Visual-Verbal Intercourse of Early Modern Erotic Arts

ByKeir Elam

The most intriguing breakthrough afforded by comparing Hamlet with Lando is neither the mock-encomium of vile things or curiosa nor the argument of folly as true reason or the usage of counterfeit folly, the emergence of dulcedo in the face of adversity and the Stoical anticipation and acceptance of death, a point that Shakespeare breathtakingly innovates in Hamlet's monologues almost beyond recognition. The Stoical arguments were widely disseminated in Elizabethan times. By far the most important case regards the eccentric Italian Humanist Ortensio Lando, the veritable eminence gris of counter-intellectualism often polemically panned as a paramount example of 'petulante maldicenza'. In the 1547 Italian translation one reads that true happiness lies not on the knowledge of good but in good life, not in apprehending but in living with understanding. One could legitimately lay the onus on a sort of diffused intertextuality or a haphazard interplay of forms and ideas, the most elusive form of borrowing and influence in the Renaissance.