A figura serpentinata is revealed in a flash of muscular glory. His pose is classical: a seductive contrapposto. His physique strikes the freeze-framing eye of temptation as youthfully beautiful without being boyish. Who might he be?At first glance he looks like a Renaissance statue of Fortitude or Dignity based on a Greco-Roman prototype. The passionate torsion of his chest and the thrust of his outstretched arms recall the coiling agon of the sons in the Laocoön group, but no agony appears in his beardless face. He bravely stands on his own, detached from the venomous attack of time. The play of his limbs is more erotic than tragic. He could be playing Hercules in a wooing mood, a cocky lad showing off his biceps in a comic mime of his snake-handling infancy; or perhaps he assumes a more serious role, Apollo attacking Pytho, say, or Asclepius averting the Plague. Though the hero of this wordless masque is clearly mythological, his significance (moral or otherwise) escapes the constricting glosses of art history. To the connoisseurial eye his posturing begins to look suspect. The patina of ancient glamour seems a little faux. Surely his gym-built core is too deltoid for a Levantine kouros and too buff for a Florentine saint.
Keywords: Alighieri, Dante – Divina Commedia – Inferno; productive reception; film adaptions; Jarman, Derek – Edward II; gay culture; queer theory
Title
Man with Snake
Subtitle
Dante in Derek Jarman’s Edward II
Author(s)
James Miller
Identifier
DOI Target
Description
A figura serpentinata is revealed in a flash of muscular glory. His pose is classical: a seductive contrapposto. His physique strikes the freeze-framing eye of temptation as youthfully beautiful without being boyish. Who might he be?At first glance he looks like a Renaissance statue of Fortitude or Dignity based on a Greco-Roman prototype. The passionate torsion of his chest and the thrust of his outstretched arms recall the coiling agon of the sons in the Laocoön group, but no agony appears in his beardless face. He bravely stands on his own, detached from the venomous attack of time. The play of his limbs is more erotic than tragic. He could be playing Hercules in a wooing mood, a cocky lad showing off his biceps in a comic mime of his snake-handling infancy; or perhaps he assumes a more serious role, Apollo attacking Pytho, say, or Asclepius averting the Plague. Though the hero of this wordless masque is clearly mythological, his significance (moral or otherwise) escapes the constricting glosses of art history. To the connoisseurial eye his posturing begins to look suspect. The patina of ancient glamour seems a little faux. Surely his gym-built core is too deltoid for a Levantine kouros and too buff for a Florentine saint.
Is Part Of
Place
Vienna
Publisher
Turia + Kant
Date
2011
Subject
Alighieri, Dante – Divina Commedia – Inferno
productive reception
film adaptions
Jarman, Derek – Edward II
gay culture
queer theory
Rights
© by the author(s)
This version is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Language
en-GB
short title
Man with Snake
page start
213
page end
234
Source
Metamorphosing Dante: Appropriations, Manipulations, and Rewritings in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, ed. by Manuele Gragnolati, Fabio Camilletti, and Fabian Lampart, Cultural Inquiry, 2 (Vienna: Turia + Kant, 2011), pp. 213–34
Bibliographic Citation
James Miller, ‘Man with Snake: Dante in Derek Jarman’s Edward II’, in Metamorphosing Dante: Appropriations, Manipulations, and Rewritings in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, ed. by Manuele Gragnolati, Fabio Camilletti, and Fabian Lampart, Cultural Inquiry, 2 (Vienna: Turia + Kant, 2011), pp. 213–34 <https://doi.org/10.25620/ci-02_13>

References

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  • Peake, Tony, Derek Jarman: A Biography (Woodstock, NY: Overlook, 2000)
  • Rayside, David, On the Fringe: Gays and Lesbians in Politics (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998) <https://doi.org/10.7591/9781501729638>
  • Rich, Ruby, ‘The New Queer Cinema’, in Queer Cinema: The Film Reader, ed. by Harry Benshoff and Sean Griffin (New York: Routledge, 2004)
  • Sinclair, John D., ed. and trans., Dante’s Inferno (New York: Oxford University Press, 1939; rpt. 1961)
  • Stockton, Kathryn Bond, ‘Growing Sideways, or Versions of the Queer Child: The Ghost, the Homosexual, the Freudian, the Innocent, and the Interval of Animal’, in Curiouser: On the Queerness of Children, ed. by Steven Bruhm and Natasha Hurley (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004), pp. 272–315
  • Weiermair, Peter, The Hidden Image: Photographs of the Male Nude in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries, trans. by Claus Nielander (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1988),
  •  
     
Cite as: James Miller, ‘Man with Snake: Dante in Derek Jarman’s Edward II’, in Metamorphosing Dante: Appropriations, Manipulations, and Rewritings in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, ed. by Manuele Gragnolati, Fabio Camilletti, and Fabian Lampart, Cultural Inquiry, 2 (Vienna: Turia + Kant, 2011), pp. 213–34 <https://doi.org/10.25620/ci-02_13>
James Miller, ‘Man with Snake: Dante in Derek Jarman’s Edward II’, in Metamorphosing Dante: Appropriations, Manipulations, and Rewritings in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries, ed. by Manuele Gragnolati, Fabio Camilletti, and Fabian Lampart, Cultural Inquiry, 2 (Vienna: Turia + Kant, 2011), pp. 213-34 <https://doi.org/10.25620/ci-02_13>

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