The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0286  Monday, 10 June 2013


From:        Peter Groves <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         June 8, 2013 7:26:26 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Metrical Skepticism: Paglia on Pentameter


Charles Weinstein long ago admitted in this forum to an inability to hear the subtle rhythms of Shakespeare’s pentameter (“You can’t hear it; it doesn’t exist; not even as a submerged or ghostly undertone that the audience supposedly registers viscerally”, http://shaksper.net/archive/2000/168-december/11850-re-iambic-pentameter), but I don’t—at least on the evidence he quotes—see it as quite fair to attribute the same disability (a little like being tone-deaf at the opera) to Camille Paglia. “Jagged and syncopated” describes Shakespeare’s mature pentameter rather well, but music that is syncopated doesn’t cease to be music: it merely requires a little more sophistication from its listeners.


Peter Groves

Monash University 


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