Spring 1954 • Vol. XVI No. 2 Book Reviews |

The Sounds in Their Courses

Shakespeare's Pronunciation by Helge Kökeritz. Yale University Press. $7.50. We used to say that the next pressing task of modern criticism was to push back its range of inquiry to the periods before 1500 A.D. In a way we were right, yet recent scrutinies of Middle English verse by Spiers and of Beowulf by Nist demonstrate that the task, if still pressing, is not as difficult as we supposed. Strange and crabbed though the cultural envelope of medieval literature may be, its linguistic envelope appears, after a little intensive study, less strange and crabbed than we used to think. Old English, as a synthetic language, presents most of the same problems of word recognition and word interpretation that we grew up with in Latin and Greek; its metric is of the same genus if not exactly the same species as that we encounter in Hopkins, Chesterton, Lindsay, Masefield, Dylan Thomas; its spelling system, if relatively inefficient, shows some coherence with the probable pronunciation. As

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The Elusive Word

By Harold Whitehall

Shakespeare's Pronunciation by Helge Kökeritz. Yale University Press. $7.50. We used to say that the next pressing task of modern criticism was to push back its range of inquiry to […]

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