Shakespeare's Wordplay

Shakespeare's Wordplay

Shakespeare's Wordplay

Shakespeare's Wordplay


'Professor Mahood's book has established itself as a classic in the field, not so much because of the ingenuity with which she reads Shakespeare's quibbles, but because her elucidation of pun and wordplay is intelligently related both to textual readings and dramatic significance.'- Revue des Langues Vivantes


In this investigation of Shakespeare’s wordplay, I have sometimes found myself straying into fields of study which were new to me; but I have had the good fortune to meet with experts who, whatever they might think of the purpose of my journey, have generously given time and trouble to putting me on the right track. Dr Michael Argyle has kindly helped me to find out what the psychologists have to say about puns. I have been privileged to draw upon Dr E. J. Dobson’s knowledge of Elizabethan pronunciation in order to verify the handful of homonymic puns which are discussed here. In disentangling the meanings of semantic wordplay, my prime debt has been to the printed labours of Alexander Schmidt, Dr C. T. Onions, the compilers of the New English Dictionary, and to Dr J. Dover Wilson in the notes and glossaries to his New Cambridge edition. Mr Redmond O’Hanlon, who has in preparation a Dictionary of Shakespearean Puns, has readily and patiently answered all my queries. I am especially grateful to Mr John Crow for many helpful suggestions and comments made when this study was in the draft stage. Part of Chapter One has already appeared in Essays in Criticism, and is reprinted here by kind permission of the Editor, Mr F. W. Bateson.

M. M. Mahood

University College,

Ibadan . . .

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