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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: August ::
Re: Cymbeline
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1595  Monday, 28 August 2000.

From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Friday, 25 Aug 2000 12:26:59 -0400
Subject:        Cymbeline

David Kathman is right.  The fact that Sir Frank Kermode makes the same
point immediately establishes its validity. Phew! For a moment there I
thought I was in trouble.  Edward Pixley, however, is not right. Ros
King described the writing in 'Cymbeline' as 'wonderfully sharp' and
'polished'.  Pixley seems to think he's defending her by admitting,
oddly, that some of it (deliberately) isn't. This turns out to be a
development of the stunning argument that whenever the language ISN'T
sharp and polished, that's when it most subtly IS. (We presentists
deftly term this 'having it both ways').  As an alternative, may I point
out, subject to endorsement from on high of course, that it's perfectly
evident that the main function of the 'Gentlemen' at the beginning of
the play is exposition, not the characterisation of a court culture. Yet
even their opening lines end up gnarled and contorted:

        You do not meet a man but frowns. Our bloods
        No more obey the heavens than our courtiers
        Still seem as does the King.
        (1. 1. 1-3)

'Wonderfully sharp'? 'Polished'?  I know my place, but Sir Frank shall
hear of this.

T. Hawkes
 

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