To be or not to be vulgar

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I had a Shakespeare professor in college who loved to point out what he referred to as the bawdy parts of whatever play we were studying at the time. Entire class periods were sometimes devoted to these discussions, as you can imagine young English majors whose high-school exposure to the Bard hardly, if ever, "went there," as it were.

Dr. Ferguson would have loved — and probably could have co-written — Filthy Shakespeare: Shakespeare's Most Outrageous Sexual Puns (Penguin, 304 pages, $19.99) by Shakespeare scholar Pauline Kiernan...

Filthy Shakespeare

Kiernan has put together a delicious and comprehensive book full of all the hidden meanings, sexual innuendo and vulgarities in all of Shakespeare's plays. There's no sugarcoating the translation, either. The C-word, the F-word, the Sh-word, the C-S word, and many euphemisms for the P-word and the V-word abound. And among certain themes that cannot be reprinted here, there are entire chapters devoted to: Erection, Wanking, Buggery, Dildos, Balls, Pubes, Pimps and more.

If you think the phrase "country matters" refers to issues of national importance, think again. It means what it sounds like, phonetically. I shall elaborate no more.

It took a while, but I finally found a passage that wasn't too filthy to print. From "Romeo and Juliet," Act III, Scene 5:

Capulet (to his daughter, Juliet):
Fettle your fine joints 'gainst Thursday next
To go with Paris to Saint Peter's Church,
Or I will drag thee on a hurdle thither,
Out, you green-sickness carrion! Out, you baggage,
You tallow-face!

Translation: Get your genitals ready for a thrashing on Thursday next to go to Saint Peter's Church with Paris, or I'll drag you there on a whore's cart. Whore! You pox-diseased piece of dead, putrefying flesh! You whore! You pestilent slut. You greasy-(C-word).

OK, here's another one, from "King Lear," Act II, Scene 4:

Fool: Fathers that wear rags
Do make their children blind;
But fathers that bear bags
Shall see their children kind.
Fortune, that arrant whore,
Ne'er turns the key to the poor.

Translation: Fathers who are robbed of their balls and left with a ragged scrotum make their children blind to their needs. But fathers who have their testicles intact, will have children who are kind to them. Fortune, that out-and-out whore, never opens the door to the impotent.

And these were the cleanest examples I could find! Think of what treasures await those who have a thirst for the dirty mind of a genius.

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Tho the info be belated, once the puns translated, it makes the filth so much more fun. I think my Shakespeare teacher, the decidedly un-bawdy Ms. Archer, would have put this book down and run. Hooray for Billy Shakes!

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This page contains a single entry by Teresa Budasi published on October 18, 2007 7:16 AM.

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