Friday, March 4, 2016

On Shakespeare's Late Style

[The opening scene of Henry VIII] seemed to have the full stamp of Shakespere [sic.], in his latest manner: the same close-packed expression; the same life, and reality, and freshness; the same rapid and abrupt turnings of thought, so quick that language can hardly follow fast enough; the same impatient activity of intellect and fancy, which having once disclosed an idea cannot wait to work it orderly out; the same daring confidence in the resources of language, which plunges headlong into a sentence without knowing how it is to come forth; the same careless metre which disdains to produce its harmonious effects by the ordinary devices, yet is evidently subject to a master of harmony; the same entire freedom from book-language and commonplace; all the qualities, in short, which distinguish the magical hand which has never been successfully imitated. (J. Spedding, "Who Wrote Shakspere's Henry VIII?" in Gentleman's Magazine 178 (1850), quoted in Brian Vickers, Shakespeare as Co-Author, Oxford 2002, p. 337)

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