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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: March ::
Re: Fishy
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.07373  Tuesday, 12 March 2002

From:           W.L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Monday, 11 Mar 2002 17:52:58 -0500
Subject: 13.0730 Fishy
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.0730 Fishy

>. . . Don suggested that "the meaning of 'machiavellian' is
>whatever your readers think of when you write it, even if that's
>wrong".  . . .

Of course. When I was a freshman in college, a junior student asked me
before class who Machiavelli was. I told her, but I was amazed that
someone could complete high school and spend two years in college and
have no idea who Machiavelli was or what he wrote.

Now it is possible that she did know the adjective "Machiavellian," but
it's just as likely that she did not. So when or if she read that
adjective, she could be only puzzled, and no definition would
immediately come to mind, or if one did it would in all likelihood be
wrong. So for her -- this not so hypothetical reader -- "Machiavellian"
would mean nothing, or something incorrect (barring a miracle).

One must be well educated to read well. Ya gotta know the words, the
concepts, the categories, the culture, before you can read at a high
level of comprehension.

Now my experiment: I sat under a tree today. Describe the tree.

Yours, Bill Godshalk

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