The Social Stakes of Gambling in Early Modern London

To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the author.


Simmel’s concept of “play” positions sociable behaviors such as gambling and flirting as abstract enactments of society’s “serious relationships.” Flirting, Simmel suggests, is a strictly formal, or “play” version of sex; gambling, in turn, is a “play” version of the economy. Gambling’s structures of profit and loss, of risk and reward, echo and indeed depend upon the practices that compose the “real” economy, but the point of gambling itself is essentially social; that is to say, gambling is communicative, interactive, full of struggle and pleasure and sorrow, and its purpose is rooted in these qualities. For Simmel, the sociability of gambling far outweighs its financial elements: “the true sportsman” is never really in it for the money.

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the author.

This collection of essays examines the vogue for games and game playing as expressed in art and literature in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe. Focusing on games as a leitmotif of creative expression, these scholarly inquiries are framed as a response to two main questions: how were games used to convey special meanings in art and literature, and how did games speak to greater issues in European society? In chapters dealing with chess, playing cards, board games, dice, gambling, and outdoor and sportive games, essayists show how games were used by artists, writers, game makers and collectors, in the service of love and war, didactic and moralistic instruction, commercial enterprise, politics and diplomacy, and assertions of civic and personal identity. Offering innovative iconographical and literary interpretations, their analyses reveal how games“played, written about, illustrated and collected“functioned as metaphors for a host of broader cultural issues related to gender relations and feminine power, class distinctions and status, ethical and sexual comportment, philosophical and religious ideas, and conditions of the mind.
Full-text available
This essay focuses on Shakespeare's development of the Gamester figure throughout his canon. I demonstrate that, from The Taming of the Shrew to Hamlet to Antony and Cleopatra to The Winter's Tale, the facade of a friendly wager requires the Gamester's concomitant denigration and control of the women around him-often to disastrous results. When the Gamester calls Fortune a "whore" and stakes the reputations and lives of women in bets, he not only attempts to absorb the emasculating risks of determining "odds" and "stakes" between men, but he also risks societal perdition. My focus on the specifically gendered implications of Shakespearean wagers thus elucidates why so many of Shakespeare's plays begin with a game but often end with a stage littered with bodies.
The present bibliography is a continuation of and a complement to those published in the Urban History Yearbook 1974€“91 and Urban History from 1992. The arrangement and format closely follows that of previous years. The list of abbreviations identifies only those periodicals from which articles cited this year have been taken, though many other journals are also checked. There is an index of towns on p. x.
On “venturing” and its connections to risk, see Theodore Leinwand, Theater, Finance, and Society in Early Modern England
  • T Leinwand
The Lady of Pleasure
  • James Shirley
  • J Shirley
On “venturing” and its connections to risk, see Theodore Leinwand
  • Rowley
  • Wonder
  • T Leinwand