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Shakespeare’s defence of verse

Shakespeare’s defence of verse
Shakespeare’s defence of verse
‘I heard a fair lady sigh: “I wish someone would write a good treatise on prosody”’ (Ezra Pound, ABC of Reading (1934)

This thesis is about Shakespeare’s prosody, and it tries to be good. The first section is composed of four chapters, each of which examines one of the four metrical traditions available to early modern writers (quantitative prosody in Chapter 1, rhyming verse in Chapter 2, syllabic prosody in Chapter 3 and accentual prosody in Chapter 4) and what Shakespeare may have brought or wrought from it. It evokes how many of the things we have valued in Shakespeare – the sophistication of onstage action (Chapter 1), the wild sequences of language (Chapter 2), the verisimilar worlds of the plays (Chapter 3), the unusually ‘deep’ characters (Chapter 4) – have origins in his handling of metre and rhythm. The second part of the thesis considers how Shakespeare uneasily binds these four prosodic inheritances, and what they gave him, into a new blank verse (Chapter 5) which frequently risks something like free verse (Chapter 6). In doing all of this, it hopes to uncover Shakespeare’s ‘defence of verse’ – the treatise he never wrote.
University of Southampton
Stagg, Robert
6a370e05-62bf-4e4d-a507-cf709e4f0d9b
Stagg, Robert
6a370e05-62bf-4e4d-a507-cf709e4f0d9b
King, Ros
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Davies, Laura
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Stagg, Robert (2017) Shakespeare’s defence of verse. University of Southampton, Doctoral Thesis, 189pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

‘I heard a fair lady sigh: “I wish someone would write a good treatise on prosody”’ (Ezra Pound, ABC of Reading (1934)

This thesis is about Shakespeare’s prosody, and it tries to be good. The first section is composed of four chapters, each of which examines one of the four metrical traditions available to early modern writers (quantitative prosody in Chapter 1, rhyming verse in Chapter 2, syllabic prosody in Chapter 3 and accentual prosody in Chapter 4) and what Shakespeare may have brought or wrought from it. It evokes how many of the things we have valued in Shakespeare – the sophistication of onstage action (Chapter 1), the wild sequences of language (Chapter 2), the verisimilar worlds of the plays (Chapter 3), the unusually ‘deep’ characters (Chapter 4) – have origins in his handling of metre and rhythm. The second part of the thesis considers how Shakespeare uneasily binds these four prosodic inheritances, and what they gave him, into a new blank verse (Chapter 5) which frequently risks something like free verse (Chapter 6). In doing all of this, it hopes to uncover Shakespeare’s ‘defence of verse’ – the treatise he never wrote.

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Published date: September 2017

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 422264
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/422264
PURE UUID: 5dcaf7bb-efec-4e3b-b166-95d08243d3fb

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Date deposited: 20 Jul 2018 16:30
Last modified: 30 Sep 2020 04:01

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Contributors

Author: Robert Stagg
Thesis advisor: Ros King
Thesis advisor: Laura Davies

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