“Apt and True”: Speech, World, and Thought in Shakespeare's Humanist Dialectic

Joel B. Altman

in The Improbability of Othello

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780226016108
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226016122 | DOI:
“Apt and True”: Speech, World, and Thought in Shakespeare's Humanist Dialectic

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This chapter attempts to reconstruct the psycholinguistic environment in which Shakespeare wrote his plays. From the ancient traditions of representing ethos, in which the antithetical impulses of rhetorical anthropology may be discerned struggling for mastery until they assumed the complexly tensed form in Ciceronian oratory that found a niche in Elizabethan education and resonated in contemporary neostoic writings, it turns to a contiguous sixteenth-century linguistic phenomenon. This is the incursion of rhetorical values into dialectical training. The peculiar syncretism that resulted filters into the world of Othello, affecting diction, grammar, and—most important—the apprehension of fact, suggesting that Shakespeare was alive to its hazards. The chapter begins by asking the reader to attend closely to a distinctive bit of speech.

Keywords: psycholinguistic; dialectics; rhetorical anthropology; ethos; neostoic writings; Shakespeare

Chapter.  12709 words. 

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism

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