Managing copiousness for pleasure and profit: William Painter's Palace of Pleasure


  • I extend my thanks to Neil Rhodes, Helen Smith and Louise Wilson for references and suggestions.


This article looks in detail at William Painter's Palace of Pleasure (1566 and 1567), a large two-volume collection of novella translations and histories, which includes translations of tales by Boccaccio and Bandello. In particular, I analyze some of the textual strategies which ensured the Palace's enduring popularity, specifically Painter's careful wielding of copiousness as a tool for both pleasure and profit. This study focuses primarily on the Palace's paratextual apparatus, from the prefatory rhetoric of the front matter, to the use of architectural metaphors and the organization of textual material via running titles and contents pages. These organizing principles are considered in the light of the reading habits encouraged both by commonplacing and the understanding of reading as having moral effects, in order to identify the Palace as a text which demands that its copious content be actively ‘used’ rather than passively absorbed.