The Key of GreenPassion and Perception in Renaissance Culture

The Key of GreenPassion and Perception in Renaissance Culture

Bruce R. Smith

Print publication date: 2013

ISBN: 9780226763781

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


From William Shakespeare's “green-eyed monster” to the “green thought in a green shade” in Andrew Marvell's “The Garden,” the color green was curiously prominent and resonant in English culture of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Among other things, green was the most common color of household goods, the recommended wall color against which to view paintings, the hue that was supposed to appear in alchemical processes at the moment base metal turned to gold, and the color most frequently associated with human passions of all sorts. This book considers the significance of the color in the literature, visual arts, and popular culture of early modern England. Contending that color is a matter of both sensation and emotion, it examines Renaissance material culture—including tapestries, clothing, and stonework, among others—as well as music, theater, philosophy, and nature through the lens of sense perception and aesthetic pleasure. At the same time, this book aims to offer a meditation on the nature of consciousness, perception, and emotion. Like the key to a map, the book provides a guide for looking, listening, reading, and thinking that restores the aesthetic considerations to criticism.