Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mirror Gazing

Titian's Venus with a Mirror, ca. 1555

Printer Richard Jones published The Anatomie of Abuses by Puritan pamphleteer Philip Stubbs in 1583. The book is still read by scholars as a source of detailed information about the sinful practices it condemns among Londoners in the time of Shakespeare. These included dancing, card-playing and theater-going – activities still viewed with suspicion and disapproval by my own grandparents in the 1950s, descended as they were from Evangelical Swedish immigrants. But my grandparents, so far as I can remember, did not extend their righteous wrath to mirrors. According to Stubbs, mirror-gazers, "may be said to look in the devil's arse while he infuseth the venomous wind of pride into their souls."