Grammar-school students in Shakespeare's time were taught to recognise the two hundred figures of speech that Renaissance scholars had derived from Latin and Greek sources (from amphibologia through onomatopoeia to zeugma). This knowledge was one element in their thorough grounding in the liberal arts of logic, grammar, and rhetoric, known as the trivium. In Shakespeare's Use of the Arts of Language Sister Miriam Joseph writes: "The extraordinary power, vitality, and richness of Shakespeare's language are due in part to his genius, in part to the fact that the unsettled linguistic forms of his age promoted to an unusual degree the spirit of creativeness, and in part to the theory of composition then prevailing . . . The purpose of this study is to present to the modern reader the general theory of composition current in Shakespeare's England." The author then lays out those figures of speech in simple, understandable patterns and explains each one with examples from Shakespeare. Her analysis of his plays and poems illustrates that the Bard knew more about rhetoric than perhaps anyone else. Originally published in 1947, this book is a classic.
'Much drink may be said to be an equivocator with lechery: it makes him, and it mars him; it sets him on, and it takes him off; it persuades him, and disheartens him; makes him stand to, and not stand to: in conclusion, equivocates him in a sleep, and, giving him the lie, leaves him.' Porter, Macbeth, II i. Why would Elizabethan audiences find Shakespeare's Porter in Macbeth so funny? And what exactly is meant by the name the 'Weird' Sisters? Jonathan Hope, in a comprehensive and fascinating study, looks at how the concept of words meant something entirely different to Elizabethan audiences than they do to us today. In Shakespeare and Language: Reason, Eloquence and Artifice in the Renaissance, he traces the ideas about language that separate us from Shakespeare. Our understanding of 'words', and how they get their meanings, based on a stable spelling system and dictionary definitions, simply does not hold. Language in the Renaissance was speech rather than writing - for most writers at the time, a 'word' was by definition a collection of sounds, not letters - and the consequences of this run deep. They explain our culture's inability to appreciate Shakespeare's wordplay, and suggest that a rift opened up in the seventeenth century as language came to be regarded as essentially 'written'. The book also considers the visual iconography of language in the Renaissance, the influence of the rhetorical tradition, the extent to which Shakespeare's late style is driven by a desire to increase the subjective content of the text, and new ways of studying Shakespeare's language using computers. As such it will be of great interest to all serious students and teachers of Shakespeare. Despite the complexity of its subject matter, the book is accessibly written with an undergraduate readership in mind.
Oxford Shakespeare Topics provide students and teachers with short books on important aspects of Shakespeare criticism and scholarship. Each book is written by an authority in its field, and combines accessible style with original discussion of its subject. Notes and a critical guide to further reading equip the interested reader with the means to broaden research. For the modern reader or playgoer, English as Shakespeare used it can seem alien and puzzling: vocabulary and grammar are in transition, pronouns and verb-forms can seem unfamiliar. Moreover, the conventions of poetic drama may also pose an impediment. Shakespeare and the Arts of Language provides a clear and helpful guide to the linguistic and rhetorical dimensions of the plays and poems. Written in a lucid, non-technical style, the book starts with the story of how the English language changed throughout the sixteenth century. Subsequent chapters define Shakespeare's main artistic tools and illustrate their poetic and theatrical contributions: Renaissance rhetoric, imagery and metaphor, blank verse, prose speech, and wordplay. The conclusion surveys Shakespeare's multiple and often conflicting ideas about language, encompassing both his enthusiasm at what words can do for us and his suspicion of what words can do to us. Throughout, Russ McDonald helps his readers to appreciate a play's concerns and theatrical effects by thinking about its language in relation to other writings of the period. He also emphasizes pleasure in the physical properties of Shakespeare's words: their colour, weight, and texture, the appeal of verbal patterns, and the irresistible power of intensified language.
This innovative volume testifies to the current revived interest in Shakespeare's language and style and opens up new and captivating vistas of investigation. Transcending old boundaries between literary and linguistic studies, this engaging collaborative book comes up with an original array of theoretical approaches and new findings. The chapters in the collection capture a rich diversity of points of view and cover such fields as lexicography, versification, dramaturgy, rhetorical analyses, cognitive and computational corpus-based stylistic studies, offering a holistic vision of Shakespeare's uses of language. The perspective is deliberately broad, confronting ideas and visions at the intersection of various techniques of textual investigation. Such novel explorations of Shakespeare's multifarious artistry and amazing inventiveness in his use of language will cater for a broad range of readers, from undergraduates, postgraduates, scholars and researchers, to poetry and theatre lovers alike.
This remarkable volume challenges scholars and students to look beyond a dominant European and North American 'metropolitan bank' of Shakespeare knowledge. As well as revealing the potential for a new understanding of Shakespeare's plays, Martin Orkin adopts a fresh approach to issues of power, where 'proximations' emerge from a process of dialogue and challenge traditional notions of authority. Divided into two parts this book: encourages us to recognise the way in which 'local' or 'non-metropolitan' knowledges and experiences might extend understanding of Shakespeare's texts and their locations demonstrates the use of local as well as metropolitan knowledges in exploring the presentation of masculinity in Shakespeare's late plays. These plays themselves dramatise encounters with different cultures and, crucially, challenges to established authority.
Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England is an international volume published every year in hardcover, containing essays and studies as well as book reviews of the many significant books and essays dealing with the cultural history of medieval and early modern England as expressed by and realized in its drama exclusive of Shakespeare.
This book is concerned with language, genre, drama, and literary and historical narrative and examines the comedy of Shakespeare in the context of comedies from Italy, Spain, and France in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
This four-volume Companion to Shakespeare's Works, compiled as a single entity, offers a uniquely comprehensive snapshot of current Shakespeare criticism. Brings together new essays from a mixture of younger and more established scholars from around the world - Australia, Canada, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Examines each of Shakespeare’s plays and major poems, using all the resources of contemporary criticism, from performance studies to feminist, historicist, and textual analysis. Volumes are organized in relation to generic categories: namely the histories, the tragedies, the romantic comedies, and the late plays, problem plays and poems. Each volume contains individual essays on all texts in the relevant category, as well as more general essays looking at critical issues and approaches more widely relevant to the genre. Offers a provocative roadmap to Shakespeare studies at the dawning of the twenty-first century. This companion to Shakespeare’s tragedies contains original essays on every tragedy from Titus Andronicus to Coriolanus as well as thirteen additional essays on such topics as Shakespeare’s Roman tragedies, Shakespeare’s tragedies on film, Shakespeare’s tragedies of love, Hamlet in performance, and tragic emotion in Shakespeare.