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Title: Shakespeare's prosody : a new approach to an old problem
Author: Groves, P. L.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1980
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This thesis attempts to solve the problem of metricality that is central to any discussion of Shakespeare's versification. In what sense can such a vast diversity of lines all be said to be 'metrical'? What structural features enable us to distinguish metrical and unmetrical lines? We cannot discuss coherently the special and local effects of metre unless we have a clear understanding of how that metre works; yet, as I show in Part I, all previous attempts to provide such an understanding have failed, because they have been unable to account for the fact that we can perceive a distinction between metrical and unmetrical lines. In Part II I propose a theory of the heroic line which attempts to solve this problem, and I relate it to a general theory of metrical systems; Part II also provides, in illustration, an exposition (though not a history) of Shakespeare's metrical practice. I have focussed on Shakespeare's prosody, partly because it is so copious, so various, so complex, and so little respectful of Renaissance metrical theory, and thus presents the problem of metricality in its most acute form; and partly because Shakespeare has suffered at the hands of reductivist prosodic pedantry, that has sought to tidy his metre into neat a priori schemes. Metre is not a set of abstract relations, like a grammar, but a species of rhythm; I am interested in how this rhythm is transmitted and perceived, and I believe therefore that a metrical theory must take account of performance as well as competence. For this reason my theory represents a reaction against various recent attempts (structural and generative metrics) to appropriate metrics as a branch of linguistics; despite its considerable debt to that science, the study of metro must remain at bottom a part of evaluative criticism.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available