Shakespeare's Language

An eventful afterlife

Authored by: Keith Johnson

The Shakespearean World

Print publication date:  March  2017
Online publication date:  March  2017

Print ISBN: 9780415732529
eBook ISBN: 9781315778341
Adobe ISBN: 9781317696193


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The 1623 Shakespeare First Folio contains a eulogy on Shakespeare written by Ben Jonson. In it, Jonson speaks of the poet’s “well turned, and true filed lines” (line 68). Since that time, praise for Shakespeare’s language has not always been so fulsome. Admiration there has always been, but also much criticism. This chapter plots the afterlife of Shakespeare’s language: what people have said about it over time; and how Shakespeare language studies have developed, to the point that today there are very few Shakespearean linguistic stones which remain unturned. Those that do are the subject of a final section that looks to the future.

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