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Shakespeare and DonneGeneric Hybrids and the Cultural Imaginary$
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Judith H. Anderson and Jennifer C. Vaught

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780823251254

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823251254.001.0001

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Fantasies of Private Language in “The Phoenix and Turtle” and “The Ecstasy”

Fantasies of Private Language in “The Phoenix and Turtle” and “The Ecstasy”

Chapter:
(p.169) 8. Fantasies of Private Language in “The Phoenix and Turtle” and “The Ecstasy”
Source:
Shakespeare and Donne
Author(s):

Anita Gilman Sherman

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823251254.003.0010

This chapter argues that Shakespeare and Donne’s representations of intimacy in marriage can be illuminated by Wittgenstein’s idea of private language as interpreted by Stanley Cavell. In “The Phoenix and Turtle” Shakespeare crafts a lyric that entertains a Wittgensteinian puzzle: namely, that genre, the most consensual of linguistic conventions, can resist signification and be the most abstruse of language games. In “The Ecstasy,” by contrast, Donne invents an arcane tongue for his true lovers, which shows private language in action. Shakespeare’s and Donne’s contested engagements with skepticism and with deferred or incomplete knowledge inform the way these two poems parry the temptations of a private language.

Keywords:   Shakespeare, Donne, Wittgenstein, Cavell, private language, skepticism, intimacy, marriage, genre

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