Edmund Scott, Exact Discourse (1606); Stephen Greenblatt, Learning to Curse (1990)
This chapter presents a lengthy reading of an account of the torture of a Chinese goldsmith recorded in Edmund Scott's 1606 Exact Discourse of the Subtilties… of the East Indians, and Stephen Greenblatt's reproduction of that account in the introduction to his 1990 collection, Learning to Curse. By moving back and forth between Scott's original account of the torture and Greenblatt's reading of it, the chapter extends Greenblatt's theorization of the anecdote as the emblem of new historicist literary work beyond the limits he himself finds there. A comparison of the edited version of the text Greenblatt cites and the original manuscript allows the chapter to make the case for an anecdotal theory whose treatment of what Greenblatt calls “real bodies” and “real people” nonetheless retains a strong connection to the literary.
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