Augustan Measures: Restoration and Eighteenth-century Writings on Prosody and Metre

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Ashgate, 2002 - 247 pages
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Augustan Measures is the first comprehensive survey of Restoration and 18th century writings on metre and poetic form; it focuses mainly on the debates caused by the perceived differences between the couplet and blank verse.Since the 1950s the study of versification has been dominated by the methodologies and the terminology of modern linguistics. The purpose of this monograph is to provide a survey of the techniques and findings of our 17th and 18th century precursors. Bradford here translates the technical vocabulary of the latter, which in any event conformed to no agreed methodological consensus, into terms which are readily accessible to scholars of poetry and poetics.While the work of critics such as Dryden, John Dennis and Samuel Johnson exists in 20th century editions, many of the other critics covered here-for example Woodford, Kames, Sheridan, Say, and Bysshe-are not available to modern readers even in microfiche reproductions; their works can only be consulted in copyright libraries such as the Bodleian, Oxford. Bradford's surveys of what they wrote will be useful principally because their writings are intriguing in their own right, and also because they are, to most modern readers and scholars without immediate access to copyright libraries, unknown.The volume begins with an examination of 16th and early 17th century writings on metre as the background to the 18th century debates, and with a look at criticism from Dryden to Dennis. Thereafter the author reviews the conflicting and often confusing theories forwarded by later-17th and 18th century critics on the nature of the syllable as a unit of prosodic measurement, and discusses the contributions of the Prescriptive and Elocutionist critics. The final chapters focus on rhyme and on blank verse, the topics of many of the most contentious 18th century debates on poetic form; Bradford concentrates upon how and why the blank verse of Milton and his 18th-century successors raised particular questions for contemporary critics.

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The Critical Debate on Blank Verse and the Couplet up
Stress Accent Quantity and the Composition of the Pentameter
The Prescriptive Criticism

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