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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: December ::
Re: Rhetoric: A Question (V)
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2141  Monday, 6 December 1999.

[1]     From:   Janet MacLellan <
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        Date:   Sunday, 5 Dec 1999 23:07:42 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2136 Rhetoric: A Question

[2]     From:   Setve Urkowitz <
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        Date:   Sunday, 5 Dec 1999 23:41:28 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2136 Rhetoric: A Question

[3]     From:   Stephen Hazell <
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        Date:   Monday, 6 Dec 1999 16:04:03 +0800
        Subj:   Rhetoric: A question

[4]     From:   Paul Franssen <
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        Date:   Monday, 06 Dec 1999 11:33:49 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 10.2136 Rhetoric: A Question


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Janet MacLellan <
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Date:           Sunday, 5 Dec 1999 23:07:42 -0500
Subject: 10.2136 Rhetoric: A Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2136 Rhetoric: A Question

Joanne Walen wrote:

>>Do you know the name of the kind of dialogue that
>is a "tennis volley" with a single line by each participant (usually
>two) given in rapid succession?>>

I think the term your colleague is looking for is stichomythia. In
Playing Shakespeare, John Barton calls it "ding-dong dialogue" and uses
the Richard/Anne exchange as an example.

The tennis analogy has also been applied to the rhetorical figure of
antanaclasis, called "the Rebound" by George Puttenham in The Arte of
English Poesie:

Ye have another figure which by his nature we may call the Rebound,
alluding to the tennis ball which being smitten with the racket
reboundes back againe...this [figure] playeth with one word...carrying
diverse sences...

In Acting Shakespeare, Bertram Joseph has read Henry V's response to the
Dauphin's tennis-balls insult in 1.2 in light of Puttenham's description
of the Rebound: Joseph points out that Henry's repetition of the word
"mock" in this speech makes "the sound of a tennis-ball when it is
struck."

And while we're on the topic of "tennis volley" dialogue, we shouldn't
forget Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, in which the
stichomythic game of "Questions" is presented as a tennis match:

R: We could play at questions.
G: What good would that do?
R: Practice!
G: Statement! One-love.

Gamely,
Janet MacLellan

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[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Setve Urkowitz <
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Date:           Sunday, 5 Dec 1999 23:41:28 EST
Subject: 10.2136 Rhetoric: A Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2136 Rhetoric: A Question

<<  "tennis volley" with a single line by each participant (usually
 two) given in rapid succession? >>

Stychomachia?

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Stephen Hazell <
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Date:           Monday, 6 Dec 1999 16:04:03 +0800
Subject:        Rhetoric: A question

I think the answer to Joanne's question about the name for 'tennis
volley' dialogue is "stichomythia." It was around with the Greeks and
still going strong in Godot, so there's something very tenacious about
the form, even though its manifestations can feel highly artificial. In
Shakespeare they are the occasion for some of his more laboured puns, it
seems to me, and one reason I felt like contributing this response is
because I was thinking recently about whether these passages in the
plays should be worked on stage as status games and/or as theatre
sports.  This would be to allow an improvisational quality but within
exact rules. In Love's Labour's Lost 5:2 there are sections which look
as though they start from instructions like "argue for one minute about
sweet things in rhyme, and you can leave the stage when you manage to
make 'meet' the rhyme-word." As fans of improvisation games will know,
precise instructions can be liberating. The particular passage I refer
to begins (I almost add 'however'):

Ber:  White-handed mistress, one sweet word with thee.
Pri:    Honey, and milk, and sugar; there is three.
Ber:   Nay then, two treys....etc

The tennis or sports analogy seems right - and would you agree with my
impression that Shakespeare sets it up as a sport at which the women
characters win? Boyet thinks so: "The tongues of mocking wenches are as
keen As is the razor's edge invisible Cutting a smaller hair than may be
seen."

Stephen Hazell

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Franssen <
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Date:           Monday, 06 Dec 1999 11:33:49 +0100
Subject: 10.2136 Rhetoric: A Question
Comment:        Re: SHK 10.2136 Rhetoric: A Question

Joanne Whalen asked for a rhetorical term designating "the kind of
dialogue that is a "tennis volley" with a single line by each
participant (usually two) given in rapid succession." I think the answer
is "stichomythia."

Paul Franssen
Department of English
University of Utrecht
The Netherlands
 

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