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.

You do not currently have access to this content.