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Home :: Archive :: 2008 :: October ::
A Fragment of Style
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0593  Sunday, 12 October 2008

[1] From:   John W Kennedy <
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     Date:   Tuesday, 07 Oct 2008 16:38:18 -0400
     Subt:   Re: SHK 19.0586 A Fragment of Style

[2] From:   Peter Groves <
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     Date:   Wednesday, 08 Oct 2008 12:03:29 +1100
     Subt:   Re: SHK 19.0586 A Fragment of Style

[3] From:   Felix de Villiers <
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     Date:   Wednesday, 8 Oct 2008 07:22:16 +0200
     Subt:   A Fragment of Style


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       John W Kennedy <
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Date:       Tuesday, 07 Oct 2008 16:38:18 -0400
Subject: 19.0586 A Fragment of Style
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0586 A Fragment of Style

From:       Robert Projansky 
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 >4. "sufficient" is either pronounced suf-FISH-ee-ENT or, if that
 >sounds too weird, pronounced suf-FISH-ent and followed by a
 >one- beat  pause.
 >
 >Lod.
 >Is this the noble Moore, whom our full Senate
 >Call all in all sufficient? Is this the noble nature,
 >Whom passion could not shake? Whose solid virtue,
 >The shot of accident nor dart of chance
 >Could neither graze, nor pierce?

Hardly "sufFISHiENT" -- that would make the line an outright  fourteener -- and 
a feminine one at that! Even when it is pronounced  with only three syllables, 
it takes synelepha to reduce the line to a  (feminine) alexandrine, which is 
still a foot too many, but believable.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Peter Groves <
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 >
Date:       Wednesday, 08 Oct 2008 12:03:29 +1100
Subject: 19.0586 A Fragment of Style
Comment:    Re: SHK 19.0586 A Fragment of Style

 >Robert Projansky writes: " I beg to differ about the metrical scheme of
 >the Othello scene fragment that Felix de Villiers cites. The verse
 >therein is quite regular,
 >without even a  trochee to vary the iambic pentameter.", later
 >suggesting that including reversals or 'trochees' would constitute
 >"undoing the meter", making it "like prose".
 >
 >I in turn beg to differ: in fact this passage, like other passages of
 >agitated speech in Shakespeare, has several phonologically obligatory
 >reversals (indicated by < and >) and many optional ones (indicated by <
 >and |). To ignore all the optional reversals would merely be wooden; to
 >ignore the obligatory ones ("veRY") would be to abandon the English
 >language.
 >
 >   <Ay, you| did wish that I would make her turn:
 >   <Sir she| can turn, and turn, and yet go on,
 >   And turn again, <and she| can weep sir, weep;
 >   <And she's| obedient, as you say, obedient;
 >   <Very>obedient. Proceed you in your tears,
 >   Concerning this sir:  O well painted passion:
 >   <I am| commanded here: --- <get you>away,
 >   I'll send for you anon: --- <Sir, I>obey the mandate
 >   <And will| return to Venice: ---hence, avaunt!
 >                                          Exit Desdemona
 >   <Cassio>shall have my place; and sir to night
 >   <I do| intreat that we may sup together,
 >   You are welcome sir to Cypres, ---goates and monkies.
 >                                          Exit.
 >  Lod.
 > Is this the noble Moore, <whom our| full Senate
 > Call all in all sufficient? Is this the noble nature,
 > Whom passion could not shake? Whose solid virtue,
 > The shot of accident nor dart of chance
 > Could neither graze, nor pierce?
 >
 >Here's another passage of agitated speech:
 >
 >Lear. <Let it>be so, thy truth then be thy dowre:
 ><For by| the sacred radience of the Sunne,
 >The mis[t]eries of Heccat and the night:
 >By all the operation of the Orbes,
 >>From whom we do exist, and cease to be,
 ><Heere I>disclaime <all my>Paternall care,
 >Propinquity and property of blood,
 ><[And] as| a stranger to my heart and me,
 ><Hold thee| from this for ever. The barbarous Scythian,
 >Or he that makes his generation messes
 >To gorge his appetite, <shall to| my bosome
 ><Be as| well neighbour'd, pitied, and releev'd,
 >As thou my somtime Daughter.
 >Kent.                                          Good my Liege.

It is a mistake to suppose that metrical variation kills the pentameter; on the 
contrary, so long as it stays within the rules (e.g. no successive reversals) it 
gives it life.

Peter Groves
School of English etc.
Monash University

[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:       Felix de Villiers <
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 >
Date:       Wednesday, 8 Oct 2008 07:22:16 +0200
Subject:    A Fragment of Style

I appreciated Robert Projansky's reply and am glad I provoked him to write. He 
makes very interesting points. I have already written that I'm on the site to 
learn. I'll save his letter for special study.

At the same time, I think he misunderstood me. When I was writing that piece I 
paid little attention to the regular or irregular meter. I took the iambic 
pentameter for granted. What I find jagged in Othello's speech is the short 
phrasing and his mind flying in different directions, which, I think, does have 
a disturbing effect on the meter. By texture, I certainly don't mean the meter, 
but of course, the sound pattern and that I feel the repetitions biting into this.

Yours,
Felix

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