Freud’s readings of Shakespeare are notorious for their universalizing claims about human sexuality. What is less commonly noticed, and what this article foregrounds, is the asexuality that underwrites psychoanalytic theories of sex. Venus and Adonis shows that Shakespeare’s poem is replete with asexual encounters. In other words, it is not Adonis alone who spurns sexual romance. Venus’s insatiable kissing is a textbook example of Freud’s point about the paradoxicality of sex: when it comes to the pleasures of kissing, Freud says, “It’s a pity I can’t kiss myself.” This essay reads asexuality not as a particular orientation; rather, it asks how asexuality, psychoanalysis, and Shakespeare disorient our readings of sex.
Epicures in Kissing: Asexuality in Venus and Adonis
steven swarbrick is an assistant professor of English at Baruch College, City University of New York. He is the author of The Environmental Unconscious: Ecological Poetics from Spenser to Milton (University of Minnesota Press, 2023).
Steven Swarbrick; Epicures in Kissing: Asexuality in Venus and Adonis. differences 1 September 2023; 34 (2): 84–108. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/10407391-10713833
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