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Shakespeare, Rhetoric and Cognition


  • Date Published: June 2014
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107417144

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About the Authors
  • Raphael Lyne addresses a crucial Shakespearean question: why do characters in the grip of emotional crises deliver such extraordinarily beautiful and ambitious speeches? How do they manage to be so inventive when they are perplexed? Their dense, complex, articulate speeches at intensely dramatic moments are often seen as psychological - they uncover and investigate inwardness, character and motivation - and as rhetorical - they involve heightened language, deploying recognisable techniques. Focusing on A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, Cymbeline and the Sonnets, Lyne explores both the psychological and rhetorical elements of Shakespeare's language. In the light of cognitive linguistics and cognitive literary theory he shows how Renaissance rhetoric could be considered a kind of cognitive science, an attempt to map out the patterns of thinking. His study reveals how Shakespeare's metaphors and similes work to think, interpret and resolve, and how their struggle to do so results in extraordinary poetry.

    • Brings cognitive linguistics and other cognitive approaches to language and literature into contact with close literary analysis of Shakespeare
    • Presents an account of the history and philosophy of rhetoric and its relationship to thinking as well as speaking
    • Addresses a crucial and fascinating Shakespearean question of why characters in the grip of terrible crises deliver such extraordinarily beautiful, ambitious and/or confusing speeches
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Sections of this book work very well as thoughtful close readings of the way Shakespeare uses language to present his characters' thought in action and Lyne's central argument is surely right.' Peter Mack, The Review of English Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2014
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107417144
    • length: 276 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.37kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Introduction: 'pity, like a naked new-born babe'
    2. Metaphor, synecdoche and cognition
    3. The drift towards cognition in rhetorical manuals
    4. A Midsummer Night's Dream
    5. Cymbeline
    6. Othello
    7. The Sonnets

  • Author

    Raphael Lyne, University of Cambridge
    Raphael Lyne is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Murray Edwards College. He is the author of Ovid's Changing Worlds: English Metamorphoses, 1567–1632 (2001) and Shakespeare's Late Work (2007), as well as the editor (with Subha Mukherji) of Early Modern Tragicomedy (2007).

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