The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0103 Thursday, 17 January 2002
Date: Thursday, 17 Jan 2002 02:53:46 -0500
Subject: 13.0093 Re: "the sunden stab"
Comment: Re: SHK 13.0093 Re: "the sunden stab"
> The quotation from Conan Doyle's +The White Company+ in the "fudden
> ftab" business illustrates something or other.
> > Sir Nigel sprang to his feet with his bloody dagger in his left hand and
> > gazed down upon his adversary, but that fatal and sudden stab in the
> > vital spot, which the Spaniard had exposed by raising his arm, had
> > proved instantly mortal. The Englishman leaped upon his horse and made
> > for the hill, at the very instant that a yell of rage from a thousand
> > voices and the clang of a score of bugles announced the Spanish onset.
I actually didn't mean to include Doyle in the "bad writing." I was
referring to people who post their own unpublished fiction, for whom the
"sudden stab of" (insert metaphor here) seems to be an indispensible
cliche. Doyle was the only example I could find that, as in the
original quote, used "sudden stab" to refer to an actual knife attack.
This lead me to the conclusion that "sudden stab," which entered
literary language as a metaphor at least as early as Shakespeare's
"sudden stab of rancor," probably had been converted from a cliche
originally connoting a kind of covert attack with a sharp object, which
sense is still in evidence in nineteenth century fiction.
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