LUCRECESLeeds University Centre for Russian, Eurasian and Central European Studies (UK)
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Caroline shook her loose ringlets of abundant but somewhat coarse hair over her rolling black eyes; parting her lips, as full as those of a hot-blooded Maroon, she showed her well-set teeth sparkling between them, and treated me at the same time to a smile "de sa facon." Beautiful as Pauline Borghese, she looked at the moment scarcely purer than Lucrece de Borgia.
Grief becomes a problematic matter of parts, which guides us to reconsider the lesson of the well-known ekphrastic sequence, especially in light of Lucrece's attention to foresight.
(46) Yet the image leaves Lucrece to reconcile each portion into the overarching narrative that she projects, even while realizing that the painting still cannot capture the Trojans' woeful cries.
(1438-42) Lucrece frames the painting; she does not see futile repetition or delay, but progression, and the waves imitate violent action.
The sight of the narrative endorses the prophetic nature of visual tropes, against which Lucrece turns.
After failing to halt the suicidal stroke, her husband and father pronounce Lucrece's immanent intercession in the patriarchal set of values by which she judged herself.
The sacrifice of Lucrece, in other words, cancels the (ideological) immortality of the regime by reflecting it as already "by time outworn." The movement is simultaneously carried out on the nominal plane.
While Lucrece achieves her narrative victory, such as it is, through cancellation--of preventing at least one poem she did not want--the encasing poem must conclude, and, in so doing, it remains entirely Roman (though with a significant political difference).
In the terms of the narrative, Lucrece's failure to produce an alternate outcome is a matter of interpretative inability, since she proved too naive to "read the subtle shining secrecies / Writ in the glassy margins of such books" (101-2).
The impulse to narrate a tale about loss is an impulse to wrest control from such powerful agents of it, rewriting the story with a different author and authority." (62) Rather than an authorial rivalry with God or chance, however, Lucrece gestures toward an anonymity whose cancellation fantasy defers from overarching and enduring narratives.
Chapman, "Lucrece's Time," Shakespeare Quarterly 64 (Summer 2013): 167.
(9) Samuel Arkin, '"That map which deep impression bears': Lucrece and the Anatomy of Shakespeare's Sympathy," Shakespeare Quarterly 64 (Fall 2013): 350.