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By Mark Breitenberg

To contemporary reviews of Renaissance subjectivity, frightened Masculinity in Early glossy England contributes the argument that masculinity is inevitably nervous and risky in cultures that distribute strength and authority based on patriarchal prerogatives. Drawing from present arguments in feminism, cultural experiences, historicism, psychoanalysis and homosexual stories, Mark Breitenberg explores the dialectic of wish and anxiousness in masculine subjectivity within the paintings of a variety of writers, together with Shakespeare, Bacon, Burton, and the ladies writers of the "querelles des femmes" debate, particularly Jane Anger. Breitenberg discusses jealousy and cuckoldry nervousness, hetero and homoerotic wish, humoural psychology, anatomical distinction, cross-dressing and the belief of honor and attractiveness. He strains masculine anxiousness either as an indication of ideological contradiction and, mockingly, as a effective strength within the perpetuation of Western patriarchal platforms.

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46 The gross injustice of this double standard was surely apparent to the women who suffered from it. "47 A similar preoccupation with the supposed link between the dangers of women's infidelity and social unrest shows up in the increased visibility of accusations against scolds or domineering wives in this period. Before "the middle of the sixteenth century," Underdown points out, "the authorities do not seem to have been particularly concerned with them" [scolds] . . "48 At the same time, evidence of a deeper anxiety toward women perceived as insubordinate can be found in a variety of rituals that were intended to ridicule dominated or cuckolded husbands and to punish their "unruly" wives.

This is not meant to suggest an exact parallel between late twentieth-century America and the early modern period in England - such a comparison would obscure the considerable transformations that have occurred during that span. Nor does it claim that no other period in between experienced changes or reconfigurations in its sex/gender system - culture is always, of course, a continual process of retrenchment and modification. In the process of writing this book I have been particularly attentive to contemporary Introduction 33 allegories of the issues I discuss, both on a broadly social level but also in my own personal life.

This chapter additionally builds upon the idea of publication and masculine authorship to discuss the homology between sexual and textual corruption, as exemplified particularly in the printer John Day's prefatory note to an early Elizabethan play - Sackville and Norton's Gorboduc. The next chapter also takes up an Elizabethan work by Shakespeare the early comedy Love's Labor's Lost - introduced by way of a discussion of Montaigne's fascinating essay, "Upon some verses of Vergil," translated by John Florio in 1603.

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