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Playing DirtySexuality and Waste in Early Modern Comedy$
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Will Stockton

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816674596

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816674596.001.0001

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Happy Endings II

Happy Endings II

The Unfortunate Traveller, the “Frenzy of the Visible,” and the Comedy of Anti-Semitism

Chapter:
(p.67) 4 Happy Endings II
Source:
Playing Dirty
Author(s):

Will Stockton

Publisher:
University of Minnesota Press
DOI:10.5749/minnesota/9780816674596.003.0004

This chapter analyzes Thomas Nashe’s The Unfortunate Traveller, using Linda Williams’s study of hard-core pornography’s “frenzied” attempt to spectacularize female pleasure. Beginning more or less at the gruesome end of The Unfortunate Traveller and working backward to its beginning as a trickster tale, this chapter argues that Nashe pornographically revises the Freudian primal scene of the obscene joke in which one man verbally exposes a woman to another man to satisfy his own frustrated libido. For Nashe, this exposure amounts to a sodomitical rape that collapses the anus and vagina into an undifferentiated cloaca. And alongside this reading is an analysis of the text’s anti-Semitism in terms of its comic fashioning of a Christian male body—in which Nashe’s own philosophical skepticism might usefully orient a critical reaction to this anti-Semitism.

Keywords:   The Unfortunate Traveller, obscene joke, Thomas Nashe, anus, vagina, anti-Semitism, Freudian primal scene

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