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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: August ::
Re: Cymbeline
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1575  Thursday, 24 August 2000.

[1]     From:   Judith Matthews Craig <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Aug 2000 09:05:23 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1567 Re: Cymbeline

[2]     From:   David Kathman <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 23 Aug 2000 23:14:07 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1567 Re: Cymbeline

[3]     From:   Edward Pixley <
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        Date:   Thursday, 24 Aug 2000 09:23:10 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.1567 Re: Cymbeline


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Judith Matthews Craig <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Aug 2000 09:05:23 -0500
Subject: 11.1567 Re: Cymbeline
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1567 Re: Cymbeline

Terence Hawkes writes:

<Second Gentleman:                You speak him <far.
<First Gentleman:
                   I do extend him, sir, within himself,
                   Crush him together rather than ,,

<<unfold
                   His measure duly.
                   (1. 1. 24 - 27)

<Is this 'wonderfully sharp, polished .  . . <writing  '? It strikes me
as
<over-elaborate, strained and clumsy.

I think that the variations on "far"--extend in the unusual sense of
space within, crushed, rather than "unfolded duly" as the usual sense of
space extended "far" in three-dimensional space implies--is brilliant
and thought-provoking.

Judy Craig

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Kathman <
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Date:           Wednesday, 23 Aug 2000 23:14:07 -0600
Subject: 11.1567 Re: Cymbeline
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1567 Re: Cymbeline

Terence Hawkes wrote:

>What about
>
>Second Gentleman:                You speak him far.
>First Gentleman:
>                   I do extend him, sir, within himself,
>                   Crush him together rather than unfold
>                   His measure duly.
>                   (1. 1. 24 - 27)
>
>Is this 'wonderfully sharp, polished .  . . writing  '? It strikes me as
>over-elaborate, strained and clumsy.
>
>T. Hawkes

Let me jump in here and recommend Frank Kermode's new book,
*Shakespeare's Language*.  His central thesis is that the language in
Shakespeare's late plays is much more opaque and obscure than that of
the earlier plays.  In the introduction he compares a lengthy speech
from *Titus* (Marcus' speech upon encountering Lavinia in IV.vii) with
one from *Coriolanus* (Aufidius' rumination in IV.vii), calling the
latter "certainly, ominously, obscure".  Kermode remarks on
*Coriolanus's* "extraordinarily forced expressions, its obscurity of
syntax and vocabulary, its contrasts of prose and harsh verse, its
interweavings of the domestic and the military."

Of *Cymbeline* in particular, Kermode says that "the text is riddled
with inexplicable complexities", and he uses the very example quoted by
Terence above as an example of "over-worked" verse containing "obscure
hyperbole".  He says that "its energy does not seem to be that of the
Gentlemen, whose linguistic excitement can mean little to an audience;
it has nothing to do with characterisation and even serves to obscure
the necessary business of exposition."

Whether you agree with Kermode's conclusions or not, he certainly makes
you think.

Dave Kathman

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[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edward Pixley <
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Date:           Thursday, 24 Aug 2000 09:23:10 -0400
Subject: 11.1567 Re: Cymbeline
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.1567 Re: Cymbeline

At the risk of stating the obvious, when playwrights create characters
they wish to be perceived as "over-elaborate, strained and clumsy," they
have a tendency to put language into their mouths commensurate with
those qualities.  Witness Osric.  Isn't that how they sharpen and polish
their writing?

Ed Pixley
 

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