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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: February ::
Re: I would unstate myself
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.0361  Wednesday, 14 February 2001

[1]     From:   Simon Morris <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 17:13:40 GMT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.0353 Re: I would unstate myself

[2]     From:   Pervez Rizvi <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 14 Feb 2001 08:39:26 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 12.0353 Re: I would unstate myself


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Simon Morris <
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Date:           Tuesday, 13 Feb 2001 17:13:40 GMT
Subject: 12.0353 Re: I would unstate myself
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.0353 Re: I would unstate myself

Werner Broennimann points out that OED doesn't support "unstate = not
say" until much later, and then only indirectly. But there are many
words in King Lear that provide OED with a first occurrence (or even
predate OED's claimed first occurrence, I think - I've forgotten the
details in Stanley Wells' new edition).

But the other examples he gives do suggest "unstate = not say" might
have seemed unnatural to a contemporary listener.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pervez Rizvi <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 14 Feb 2001 08:39:26 -0000
Subject: 12.0353 Re: I would unstate myself
Comment:        RE: SHK 12.0353 Re: I would unstate myself

>OED evidence
>suggests that the meaning "not state" for "unstate" only occurs as a
>past participle ("unstated") and only much later (first entry 1864).

One of the OED meanings of 'state' (v.5) is 'to declare in words', which
it dates to 1647. Of course no dictionary can be relied on to get
earliest usages exactly right, and 1647 is fairly close to Shakespeare's
time. If - and I mean 'if' - this meaning was current in the early 17th
century, as neologistic a writer as Shakespeare might have used
'unstate' with the meaning Simon Morris suggests. If someone could find,
among Shakespeare's hundreds of usages of 'state', one where he uses it
to mean merely 'say', then we might be on to something. Otherwise, the
conventional interpretation of Gloucester's line, which has the
advantage of straightforwardness in its favour, seems to me to be
unassailable. It's unnecessary to point out that, with the conventional
interpretation, Gloucester's words prefigure what happens to him later
in the play: he does not attain 'due resolution', i.e.  the knowledge
that Edgar is true and Edmund false, until he has lost his state as the
Duke of Gloucester.
 

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