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Shakespeare's Metrical Art Paperback – November 18, 1991
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introduction not only to the art of Iambic Pentameter as
Shakespeare practiced it but also a starting point to an
understanding the art of Iambic Pentameter itself. Mr. Wright
argues that in Shakespeare the Iambic Pentameter meter found
its greatest and most flexible practitioner. In
appreciating the beauty of Shakespeare's artistry we also
come to appreciate the intrinsic artistry and beaty of the
meter. Mr. Wright's journey begins with Chaucer and Wyatt,
the former being the earliest practitioner of the Iambic
Pentameter line and also the greatest until Shakespeare. His
reading of Chaucer's lines, as most often Iambic Pentameter,
sometimes runs counter to accepted wisdom, yet, as with his
conception of the meter itself, his argument is well-reasoned
and convincing. More contraversial is his treatment of Wyatt's
often inconsistent use of meter. Yet, here again, Wright
offers the reader a plausible framework into which Wyatt's
poetry becomes another expression of the meter's vitality and
flexibility. From the further disintegration of the meter
after Wyatt, Wright begins his treatment of Shakespeare's
metrical art. Every facet of Shakespeare's flexible and
imaginative use of the meter (his diversions from its strict
course) is methodically examined and considered for its
possible influence upon the meaning of the text. These
diversions include Shakespeare's use of long and short lines,
syllabic ambiguity, lines with extra syllables, lines with
omitted syllables, trochees, false trochees and other such
variations as are possible within the iambic pentameter meter.Read more ›
Wright begins with a general description and history of iambic pentameter. We learn why it became such an important tool for English poets and see it at work in the hands of its various practitioners from Chaucer on. But the bulk of the book focuses on Shakespeare's use of the form. Using generous examples from the plays and statistical evidence, Wright shows how Shakespeare manipulated the iambic pentameter line to achieve dramatic effects and how Shakespeare's metrical choices changed over the span of his career.
Be prepared for quite a list of terms to describe Shakespeare's alterations and deviations--broken-backed lines, epic caesurae, double trimeters, amphibrach, enjambment, and so forth. If you do not have much background in the language of poetic rhythm, consider brushing up first on the basic terms (iambs, trochees, dactyls, anapests, spondees). Fortunately, Wright seems conscious of these difficulties and graciously uses self-explanatory terms--short lines, shared lines, long lines, extra syllables, omitted syllables--when he categorizes metrical deviations.Read more ›
I realize now that they themselves didn't understand the verse form they were ostensibly teaching.
The result has been decades of poets who have little understanding of verse forms and who have, at times, been flatly hostile toward anything other than free verse. In my late twenties, however, I discovered "Shakespeare's Metrical Art" by George Wright; and because of this book, I taught myself how to write iambic pentameter. The subtlety, the beauty and artistry of blank verse made sense.
Wright's book is both a book about Shakespeare and a thorough textbook on the art of blank verse. If you want to understand this 'lost' art form, start here. I wish there were some way I could personally thank Wright (and I have tried from time to time to contact him without success).
So, Mr. Wright, if you ever read these reviews - I thank you... I am in your debt.
Author of "Opening Book"
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very technical book for deep lovers of the art. . . .Published 15 months ago by maya andrea y grillo massar
This is a wonderful overview of Shakespeare's poetic techniques. The examples are well chosen and telling. Anyone editing a Shakespeare play should read this.Published on September 12, 2014 by VMVaughan
“And I said, with rapture, Here is something I can study all my life, and never understand.” The epigraph is from Beckett. Read morePublished on November 3, 2013 by Harper Curtis
This is a very clear, thorough study of the development and properties of the iambic pentameter. I would recommend it.Published on February 28, 2013 by Donna