Saturday, April 30, 2005

Sunshine, sunshine, happy day

Revising is so much more fun when the sun is out, and I can sit on the balcony in a straw hat and sunglasses.

Two of my papers collided today in Helen Cooper's inaugural lecture: she discussed the ways in which the Chaucerian concept of tragedy (as articulated by the monk) remains at the heart of Elizabethan and Jacobean tragedy. The _Mirror for Magistrates_ retrod the path of Lydgate's _Fall of Princes_, and was incredibly popular right through the sixteenth century.

Helen also pointed to Shakespeare's relationship with Chaucer and other Medieval poets including Gower, which became more clear in his maturity [cf prologues to _Two Noble Kinsmen_ and to _Pericles_]. The continuity from Mystery Cycles to Elizabethan and Jacobean drama was a theme of the talk that particularly interested me: it implicitly supports my view that it is important to study the verbal texture of the cycle plays. The relationship that Helen plots between cycle and Shakespeare suggests that we cannot draw a line which says that plays written before this year are not worth reading for their language, and those which come after are a rich stock which helped make English the language it is today.

All this writing about language is partly a transference exercise: my 'essix retainers' arrived from the orthodontist today. I have to wear them full time for 2 weeks and it's not terribly easy to talk with them in...

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