Aired: January 31, 2015

How the Bard Meant It

David Garrick as Richard III. Image via Wikipedia.
David Garrick as Richard III. Image via Wikipedia.

Throughout 2014, Shakespeare’s 450th birthday inspired festivals and performances around the world. As the year of his birth comes to a close, we take a look back at how the Bard’s plays would have been performed in their day. David Crystal is a linguist and author who has researched Original Pronunciation, or OP, the accent with which actors in Shakespeare’s day would have spoken their lines. And Daniel Fromson tells the modern-day story of a man who set sail for an island on which it’s rumored OP still exists. Plus: Getting the accent right is a challenge, but there’s a whole different challenge in uncovering what Shakespeare’s words actually meant. Paul D’Andrea (George Mason University) has spent years trying to pull the big ideas out of Shakespeare’s plays.

Later in the show: With seven unpublished novels wasting away on his hard drive, Tony Vanderwarker was astonished when world-renowned author John Grisham offered to take him under his wing and mentor Tony on the art of thriller writing. Plus: Novelist Carrie Brown (Hollins University) draws inspiration from her years as a small-town America journalist, and from the mysteries of the cosmos. Her new book The Stargazer’s Sister tells the story of two remarkable sibling astronomers whose work led to the discovery of the planet Uranus.

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    The Intrepid Hamilton Meadows

    Click here for “Finding Shakespeare”: the full story of the intrepid explorer Hamilton Meadows, by writer Daniel Fromson.

  • In Search of Shakespeare’s Accent

    Off the coast of Virginia, in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, lies a shrinking island called Tangier. Here, a seasoned adventurer docked his sailboat, and launched his search for people who still speak in the original Shakespearean accent. Lilia Fuquen has the story.


3 Comments on “How the Bard Meant It”

  1. Tom McGohey

    I was excited to hear Paul D’Andrea discuss Shakespeare’s education in rhetoric and its influence on his plays. I came across this topic a few weeks ago in Richard Lanham’s composition book, “Style, an Anti-Textbook,” in which he describes his introduction, while in graduate school, to “Shakespeare’s Use of the Arts of the Language,” by Sr. Miriam Joseph, published in 1947. Lanham praises Joseph for inspiring his own views of using classical rhetoric to show students the pleasures of writing with a sense of inventiveness, to experience the sheer joy of employing playful language, while still dramatizing profound ideas. I found a copy of the book online (it was reissued in 2005 by Paul Dry Books), and reading it provides nearly as much pleasure as I imagine Shakespeare had in drawing on his knowledge of rhetoric in his plays. Such serendipitous connections are a big part of what makes your program so enlightening and exciting. Bravo! Tom McGohey, a listener in Newbern, VA.

    1. Andrew Nelson

      The program might want to research an article that was done by the Canadian Broadcasting Co. about 20 years ago which spent time on Tangier Island to research Elizabethan accents.

  2. Sarah

    What a delightful response Tom. I too was moved by Paul’s love of the language and startled to learn how many rhetorical devices exist when now we know and study so few. I plan to direct Paul to respond to your observations here. Cheers to you in Newbern!

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