Home In-Depth Reporting The tragedy of ‘deaccessioning’ books… Bryan Garner on Words By Bryan A. Garner May 2018 Photography by Terri Glanger, walknboston Scenario No. 1: An ambitious pre-law student working on a senior thesis about Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost goes to the library and discovers, much to his surprise, two long aisles of books about Shakespeare—some 6,500 books on just that subject. He spends hour after hour combing through the many tomes, checking the indexes and then reading the relevant passages. Many scholars, he finds, have written about Shakespeare’s “curious foppery of language” (Walter Pater ) in the play, which is “truly a comedy on the state of the English language in 1588” (William Mathews ). One scholar (Friedrich Landmann), in an obscure monograph from the early 1880s, defined the four types of linguistic abuse found in the play: excessive alliteration, Petrarchan love-sonneting, euphuism (fancy syntax and word choice) and perversely extreme Latinity. Nearly a century later, an American critic called the play “a sustained inquiry into the nature and status of words; and the characters in it embody, define and implicitly criticize certain concepts of words” (Ralph Berry ). Our prelaw student is off to a fruitful start… Read full this story
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