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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: February ::
Shakespeare's Style
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0113  Wednesday, 20 February 2008

[1] 	From:	John W. Kennedy <
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	Date:	Monday, 18 Feb 2008 22:22:16 -0500
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0108 Shakespeare's Style

[2] 	From:	William Sutton <
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	Date:	Tuesday, 19 Feb 2008 00:38:35 -0800 (PST)
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0108 Shakespeare's Style

[3] 	From:	Ted Dykstra 
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	Date:	Tuesday, 19 Feb 2008 09:12:16 EST
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0108  Shakespeare's Style

[4] 	From:	Nicole Coonradt <
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	Date:	Tuesday, 19 Feb 2008 16:55:20 +0000
	Subj:	Re: SHK 19.0108 Shakespeare's Style


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		John W. Kennedy <
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Date:		Monday, 18 Feb 2008 22:22:16 -0500
Subject: 19.0108 Shakespeare's Style
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0108 Shakespeare's Style

One stylistic key to Shakespeare's plays is set forth in C. S. Lewis's 
essay, "Variation in Shakespeare and Others"; a occasional cascade of 
metaphors or epithets is a powerful tool, quite possibly the best there 
is, to make dialog in verse sound like something the characters are 
making it up as they go along.

Add catachresis, quant. suff., and some of what would later be called 
stream-of-consciousness, and you have most of it. Finish with truth in 
simply syllables.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		William Sutton <
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Date:		Tuesday, 19 Feb 2008 00:38:35 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 19.0108 Shakespeare's Style
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0108 Shakespeare's Style

Hi All,

A very interesting, nay downright exciting book dealing with this 
subject is Shakespeare Thinking by Philip Davis.

This Shakespeare Now series from Continuum is trying to bridge the gap 
between cutting-edge scholarship for the interested individual 
practitioner. The general editors Simon Palfrey and Ewan Fernie in a 
Preface describe it as a series of intellectual adventure stories.

Jason I empathise with your quest and would that the answers were 
straightforward. But alas, the more you look, the more obfuscate the 
result it seems. Still we continue. As these 2 final couplets attest to 
a writer's consciousness of the effect of words:

'then others, for the breath of words respect,
me for my dumb thoughts, speaking in effect'
Sonnet 85

'But since he died and poets better prove,
Theirs for their style I'll read, his for his love.'
Sonnet 32

Yours,
William S.

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Ted Dykstra 
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Date:		Tuesday, 19 Feb 2008 09:12:16 EST
Subject: 19.0108  Shakespeare's Style
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0108  Shakespeare's Style

I think you'll find that if Shakespeare's essence or style could be 
described at all, succinctly and without stodgy academic rhetoric, it 
would have been done by now. The fact that it hasn't (rightly determined 
by your extensive research) can't be done is what makes him great.

Ted Dykstra

[4]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:		Nicole Coonradt <
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Date:		Tuesday, 19 Feb 2008 16:55:20 +0000
Subject: 19.0108 Shakespeare's Style
Comment:	Re: SHK 19.0108 Shakespeare's Style

First, I'd be willing to bet this post gets a high number of replies.

Next, regarding Rhode's early comment "capable of communicating the 
author's ideas in a striking and clear fashion." Isn't this the very 
problem?

Who can claim with any authority to *know* Shakespeare's ideas? Is 
*anything* clear with Shakespeare? I think what's most important about 
this is how the language and style you are trying to understand (we all 
are!) specifically defies understanding and this more than anything is 
his long-standing appeal. My own view of the matter is this:  because we 
know he is writing during dangerous times of severe censorship he shapes 
his style out of dire necessity *specifically* so that his ideas can 
*never* be known with clarity or absolute surety. It is a means of 
survival, of self-preservation. While the modifier "striking" fits, I 
don't think we can ever prove that he has communicated his ideas with 
clarity to anyone. If he did, we'd have no reason to debate these issues 
half a century later and his "greatness" would be considered far less 
than it historically has been. The problem is that his meaning-- the 
goal or the prize-- dictates that he use a style that thwarts understanding.

Also, I would not call it a "mystery of genius" but, rather, the *mark* 
of his particular genius.

Nevertheless, such pursuits as you wish to undertake have a place in 
Shakespeare studies and adding your voice to the critical heritage is as 
valued as those myriad voices that precede yours.

When I studied graduate linguistics, my first reaction was that it is 
English for math people, what with all its charts and tables and 
number-crunching percentages that in many ways seemed so distant from 
the words being counted. But, I learned to love its fascinating 
possibilities as a different way to read. What might prove fruitful for 
you would be examining the linguistic nature of *how* meaning is 
generated to perhaps inform what you seek by way of "understanding" by 
studying cohesion and repetition, but also heteroglossia/monoglossia 
with an eye not just to frequency, but deeper analysis of when and how 
speakers use these techniques to generate meaning. Appraisal theory 
might be useful as well. While one could study linguistics 
independently, it's probably most helpful to take at least an 
introductory course on the subject-- unless you've already had that 
somewhere along the way.

I'll be eager to see how others respond to the interesting thread you've 
started, Jason. Are there some linguists among us who can offer further 
comment?

Best,
Nicole

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