« ZurückWeiter »
To afford ready access to every peculiar feature of this rich Shakespeare style, so that at a moment any particular mode of expression used by him may be referred to and found, is the object of the present work. It grew out of the necessity which its authors felt, while they were engaged in preparing their various editions of Shakespeare, for some accurate and facile means of recurring to his manifold beauties and peculiarities of diction : it assumed form first in the shape of innumerable jotted-down memoranda from daily examination for more than thirty years of Shakespeare's text; it accumulated from minute observation of his varied niceties of phraseology, and gained bulk from the perpetual need of carefully noting these in all their different details. That which was so useful to our own joint task of editorship would naturally prove useful to general students of the great Poet, who might, so to say, become their own editors, if furnished with such a clue as we possessed to his component essentials of style. It will be of immense value to authors-especially dramatic authors-as showing the particular means whereby Shakespeare produces some of his best, most artistic, most characteristic, and most individual effects. It will be of essential aid as a philological work to those who carefully study the English language: showing Shakespeare's multiform use of the same word; his nice shades of meaning, and gradations of distinctive impression, in selection of words; his coined words; his classical use of words, in their primitive and strict signification; his invention in the formation of terms suited to his purpose and to the exact expression of his ideas; his choice of epithets, appropriate, accurately descriptive, forcible, polished, comprehensively elliptical, consonant in pictorial or tonal effectcontaining absolute colour and shape in some, melody and music in others : showing too his sentential construction-his robust and energetic conciseness, where brevity is needed; or his opulence of amplitude, where enlargement is requisite.
The work is so sorted and arranged as to give under different headings the divers specialities of Shakespeare's style, and to assemble thereunder the several passages presenting evidence of each speciality; the whole placed alphabetically: therefore this
book will afford the same clue to the infinite variety of features in Shakespeare's style that the “Concordance" affords to his every word and sentence; and thus the two books will, in fact, form companion volumes, the one to the other.
A peculiar advantage possessed by the present work is that it places collectively before the eye comparative evidence heretofore scattered in notes, glossaries, and other forms of animadversion on Shakespeare's style; so that it may be seen at one view how he uses the same word or form of expression, and thus frequently he becomes an interpreter to himself. Consequently, “ The Shakespeare Key” will aid in determining various disputed readings and readings suspected of error, by showing assembled together several similar passages to the one in question; thus affording proof of its being in accordance with Shakespeare's peculiar style. Notes have been placed in several pages of this work, drawing attention to points of the kind here meant.
A special feature of the book will be found under the heading, DRAMATIC TIME, which discusses and denotes the system (invented by himself) upon which our greatest Dramatist moulded his style in this particular.
On this occasion it may perhaps be permitted us to congratulate our readers (who have proved to be more like friends in their constant and kind partiality towards us) as well as ourselves upon the prolonged and intimate knowledge we have maintained throughout the course of our lives with our greatest National Poet: as compiler of the “Concordance”—a task of sixteen years, essayist and lecturer for a good half-century, as glossarist and editor of several editions for America and England; “ The Shakespeare Key,” forming the condensed result of these loving | Shakespearian labours, wherewith, affectionately and gratefully, we take our leave.
CHARLES AND MARY COWDEN CLARKE.
Villa Novello, Genoa.
These additional prefatory words are penned by the survivor of the Author-pair who put their names to the Preface originally written for this work, that she may explain why and how it has been modified since then.
The work was written happily together. After it was finished, Illness-Death-set their iron hands against its production in print. While it lay thus chained in manuscript, an extremely comprehensive Lexicon was brought out, which included many verbal points discussed in our work; and I resolved to sacrifice these points, amounting to no fewer than 639 pages of written labour. I also condensed much matter, which incurred fresh toil. But the result of this extra care bestowed upon our work has had the effect, I trust and believe, of rendering it more usefully valuable to its readers as a work of reference strictly to Shakespeare's style ; and this belief amply repays the increased trouble it has cost her who signs herself
The faithfully devoted and loving servant of
Shakespeare and of all good Shakespearians,
MARY COWDEN CLARKE.
Villa Novello, Genoa,
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
Authorship and Style of “First Part of King Henry VI." minutely discussed
(See RECURRENCE OF PARTICULAR POINTS]