In “The Taming of the Shrew” Katherine calls Petruchio a “joyn’d stool,” to which he responds in a less-than-gentleman-like manner: “Thou hast hit it: come, sit on me,” among other salacious riposts that devolve into talk of tongues in tails. (A stool also appears in “King Lear,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Macbeth,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “2 Henry IV.”) There are handsaws in “Hamlet,” and crowbars in “Comedy of Errors (though for unmaking, not making).
In “The Odyssey,” Odysseus carves a bed from a living olive tree then builds the bedroom around it: “…cut away the foliage of the long-leaved olive,/and trimmed the trunk from the roots up, planing it with a brazen/adze, well and expertly, and trued it straight to a chalkline,/making a bed post of it, and bored all holes with an auger.”
In Adam Bede, the title character is a carpenter; in “Madame Bovary,” Monsieur Binet spends his time making useless things on the lathe.
Woodworking also shows up in such pre-20th-century literary works as the poetry of Walt Whitman, Thomas Dekker’s play “The Roaring Girl,” Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick,” Christopher Marlowe’s “The Jew of Malta,” Ben Jonson’s “Eastward Ho,” and “The Epic of Gilgamesh.” And I think it’s woodworkers who start a riot at Lamarque’s funeral in “Les Miserables” – though I’m dreading re-reading Hugo to confirm that (it’s perhaps shameful, but I never could appreciate his novels).
I’m looking for more, in relation to a project on woodworking or woodworkers that appear in pre-20th-century adult literature (that is, not fairy tales or other children’s literature)…and I’m afraid I’ve forgotten some important one such as, I dunno, the Bible.
If any references spring to mind, please help me out by posting a comment below.
Edit: And “Robinson Crusoe,” as I was just reminded by the Saucy Indexer – I knew there was at least one major one I was forgetting!