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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: May ::
First Folio Function
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1007  Thursday, 26 May 2005

[1]     From:   Peter Groves <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 May 2005 23:50:20 +1000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0996 First Folio Function

[2]     From:   D Bloom <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 May 2005 08:53:41 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0996 First Folio Function


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Peter Groves <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 May 2005 23:50:20 +1000
Subject: 16.0996 First Folio Function
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0996 First Folio Function

Bill Godshalk writes "I have a friend, a poet, who can and does speak in
blank verse.  If he didn't point out that he was doing so, I certainly
wouldn't know that he was.  I would think that he was speaking prose.
So, if blank verse is set as prose, would the actor whose lines these
are, the director of the play in which these lines are contained, and
the audiences listening to these lines-would they realize that these
lines are blank verse set as prose. Would they hear a difference either
way?"

Many wouldn't; many would (it would partly depend on the delivery: an
actor who thought s/he was speaking prose would fail to make the
appropriate slight adjustments-might well, for example, put the main
emphasis on <straight>in "O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on
fees", which would kill the metre). More generally, in my experience
there are people who can hear pentameter, and people who have never for
some reason acquired the knack, to whom it sounds like prose; among the
latter there are both actors and scholars, and even some recent editors
of Shakespeare (the New Oxford <Macbeth>, for example, -- followed, as
it so often is, by the New Cambridge-prints the taut energetic verse of
Macbeth's persuasion of the murderers (mangled into free verse by
compositor A in F1) as an arbitrary lapse into prose.

As the latter example shows, the reader is perhaps not such a different
beast (beyond the banal fact of being presented with typographical clues
to lineation): s/he still has to hear the metre (aloud or subvocalized)
to recognize it.  The editors of those recent texts of <Macbeth>could
read the blank verse as re-arranged by Rowe (they couldn't miss it,
since it's otherwise universally printed by editors), but clearly they
couldn't hear it.

Peter Groves

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 May 2005 08:53:41 -0500
Subject: 16.0996 First Folio Function
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0996 First Folio Function

William Godshalk writes:

"I have a friend, a poet, who can and does speak in blank verse.  If he
didn't point out that he was doing so, I certainly wouldn't know that he
was."

If there is no iambic cadence to the lines why does he think they
constitute blank verse? How can you have blank verse without the verse
(primarily iambic metric lines)?

Just wondering,
don

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