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Filthy Shakespeare: Shakespeare's Most Outrageous Sexual Puns

Pauline Kiernan

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Prose: non-fiction, Shakespeare studies & criticism, Humour

The works of William Shakespeare contain at least 400 puns on male and female genitals. Despite the richness and breathtaking scope of his sexual language, too little attention has been paid to the sheer salacious inventiveness of his indecent puns - until now. His plays and poems pulsate with puns on body parts and what they do. Filthy Shakespeare presents over 70 sizzling examples of the Bard at his raciest, arranged under different categories from Balls to Buggery, from Cunnilingus to the Clap, from Homosexual to Transvestite. Each filthy Shakespearean passage is translated into modern English and the hidden sexual meanings of the words explained in a glossary. In her fascinating and lively Introduction, Pauline Kiernan shows how Shakespeare's sexual wordplay had its roots in the social and political reality of Elizabethan and Jacobean England, where the harsh facts of life were often disguised by bawdy, brutal punning, and in the era when the English secret service was born, deciphering secret codes became a national obsession.

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