Sunday, June 5, 2011

Details on Bacon's and Shakespeare's writing styles

Details on Bacon's and Shakespeare's styles:

A. Antithesis: this is the contrast of ideas expressed by parallelisms of strongly contrasted words.
"But day by night and night by day oppressed" Sonnet 28
"Time was I had honour without leisure; and now I have leisure without honour". Bacon

"Or I shall short my promise by lengthening my return". Cymbeline 1.7.200-201
"I, who desire to live to study, may be driven to study to live". Bacon

N.B.Cockburn says (and I'm paraphrasing): "Antithesis was in vogue in the Elizabethan era, especially in the pre-Shakespearian period before about 1580. John Lyly used it quite often. But I know of no Elizabethan (or other) writer of poetry or prose who pursued antithesis as persistently and adroitly as did Bacon and Shake-Speare. Their addiction to it is so intense as to constitute almost a mental disorder; and sometimes they strain language to achieve it. "

B. Metaphors and Similes:
  "His mind was wonderfully quick in perceiving analogies of all sorts. But...he sometimes appears strangely deficient in the power of distinguishing rational from fanciful analogies". "Indeed, he possessed this faculty, or this faculty possessed him, to a morbid degree". Lord Macauley on Bacon.
  "There is perhaps no [prose] author so metaphorical as Bacon; his whole style is saturated with metaphor". T.B. Shaw in Outlines of English Literature (1849)

"Shakespeare perceived a thousand distant and singular relations between the objects which met his view. He had the habit of that learned subtlety which sees and animates everything, and leaves no hint of resemblances unnoticed". Francois Guizot

"The swift movement from image to image, and the complex fusion of ideas, are typical of Bacon at his best, when the need to realise certain abstract ideas forces him to make a poetical use of language." Quennell and Johnson in A History of English Literature (1972)

C.  Vocabulary
  "Bacon made a study of comparative philology to show in what points each language excels and in what it fails, so that not only may languages be enriched by mutual exchanges, but also the several beauties of each combined, and thus made to constitute a model speech of itself." Spedding 4.441
"I had often observed, and so have other men of great account, that if he [Bacon] had occasion to repeat another man's words after him, he had an use and faculty to dress them in better vestments and apparel than they had before. So that the author should find his own speech much amended and yet the substance of it still retained. As it had been natural for him to use good forms". Canon Rawley

D. Aphorisms 
Both authors found it hard to resist an aphorism, and coined many that have been on men's tongues ever since.
E. Habit of Revision
  Shake-Speare and Bacon were both inveterate revisers, even after publication.
  "I myself have seen at least twelve copies of the Instauration [Novum Organum] revised year by year, one after the other, and every year altered and amended in the frame thereof, till at least it came to that model in which it was committed to the press. He would suffer no moment of time to slip from him without some present improvement". Canon Rawley

F. Stumbling over Grammar
  "..the tangled, elliptical, helter-skelter sentences into which the impetuous imagination of Shakespeare sometimes hurries him." Christopher North
  "Bacon's mind, with its fullness and eagerness of thought, was at all times apt to outrun his powers of grammatical expression."Spedding 1.145

G. "Do", "doth", "dost" etc
  Both Bacon and Shake-Speare adhered, to their last days, to these expletives before verbs: "When I do count the clock that tells the time". The usage of them though had began to die out at the end of the 16th century.

F. Carelessness over Detail
  "Shake-Speare sometimes seems indifferent to detail. There are quite often loose ends in the plots of the plays, or even inconsistencies in the names of characters and so on. (even giving leeway for inaccurate transcription).
  Bacon also was sometimes indifferent to detail. He often misquoted from the classics and other sources.
  "We have abundant proof that he [Bacon] was eminently inattentive to details". editor S.H.Reynolds of the Clarendon Press

  "...the Law does not care about trivialities; I cannot thread needles so well". Bacon

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