Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 26 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The sound of Shakespeare’s words is intrinsic to their meaning and dramatic effect. This chapter understands poetry as word music whether written as verse or prose. My approach to the theme invokes Richard Strauss’s opera Capriccio, Edmund Kean, John Keats, Herbert Farjeon, Edith Evans, Edith Sitwell, and Virginia Woolf. I then present a survey of how the musicality of Shakespeare’s language has been discussed by three influential theatrical practitioners of the last forty years: John Barton, Cicely Berry, and Adrian Noble, and notice their difficulty in approaching Shakespeare’s word music even whilst recognizing it as crucial to his poetry and dramatic art. There then follow close readings of an example of verse (Twelfth Night, or what you will to approach the theme I. v. 257–65) and prose (Macbeth, V. i. 18–64), the better to illustrate my recommendations of how readers might experience Shakespeare’s word music for themselves, and enrich Shakespeare when performed.

Keywords: music, musicality, sound, words, dramatic, verse, prose

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.