Publication Date: Jul 2013
RRP: $39.95
ISBN: 9781921867811
Format: Paperback
Size: 153mm x 234mm
Pages: 160
Category: Literary Studies

Rhythm and Meaning in Shakespeare

A Guide for Readers and Actors

Peter Groves


‘Although actors and acting instructors may be the main beneficiaries, anyone who teaches Shakespeare or simply enjoys sounding off will benefit from this deft little book.’ Julia Reinhard Lupton, Studies in English Literature 1500–1900, Spring 2014

‘Peter Groves’ book will come as a revelation to actors and readers of Shakespeare. With a shortage of formal training and a desperation to be “natural”, many actors today ignore or even resist the literary conventions and devices embedded in Shakespeare’s plays.
‘Dr Groves’ intensive and illuminating study demonstrates how an appreciation of Shakespeare’s use of metre, stress and rhythm, along with many attendant subtleties, will inform actors’ understanding of a text and allow them to soar beyond the bounds of mere “naturalism”, to delight the ear as well as the intellect of an audience.’ John Bell, Bell Shakespeare

‘It is beautifully written, rich with meaning, humorous and deeply knowledgeable, with a full feeling for the life of the stage. Groves analyses the way that Shakespeare uses speech to create and reinforce meaning: and in so doing he engages in an alive and alert way with many of the complexities this entails. He really understands that speaking verse provides the key to “living” a part, and I love the colorful economy of his language – it is full of down-to-earth metaphor, which is really engaging and delightful… This is one of the most originally conceived and useful books I’ve read for a long while.’ Philippa Kelly, California Shakespeare Theatre


How did Shakespeare intend that his plays be read?

Rhythm and Meaning in Shakespeare explores the rhythmical organisation of Shakespeare’s verse and how it creates and reinforces meaning both in the theatre and in the mind of the reader. Because metrical form in the pentameter is not passively present in the text but rather something that the performer must co-operatively re-create in speaking it, pentameter is what John Barton calls “stage-direction in shorthand”, a supple instrument through which Shakespeare communicates valuable cues to performance. This book is thus an essential guide for actors wishing to perform in his plays, as well as a valuable resource for anyone wishing to enhance their understanding of and engagement with Shakespeare’s verse.

Audio Examples to Accompany the Book
Rhythm and Meaning in Shakespeare

Please note that these brief sound files are meant purely to illustrate points made in the book Rhythm and Meaning in Shakespeare (they are numbered in the book and indicated by a black triangle: see p.1n.). They are decidedly not examples of acting, since I claim no talent in that area, and still less are they intended to be ‘definitive’ readings of the lines and passages in question.

I would like to thank (in alphabetical order) Tess Ebinger, Stella Groves, Mishka Kent, Eliza Lockhart, Carina Moore and Shauny-Maree Talbot for their kind assistance in creating these sound files.

Rhythm and Meaning in Shakespeare – individual .mp3 audio files
Audio Example Book page number
1 1
2 3
3 4
4 4
5 (footnote) 5
5 6
6 7f.
7 9
8 12
9 14
10 14
11 14
12 16
13 16
14 17
15 17
16 18f.
17 19
18 20
19 21
20 21
21 22
22 22
23 22
24 22
25 23
26 23
27 23
28 24
29 24
30 27
31 27
32 27
33 28
34 29
35 32
36 35
37 37
38 39
39 44
40 44
41 45
42 46
43 46
44 47
45 48
46 49
47 53
48 54
49 55
50 56
51 57
52 57
53 58
54 58
55 63
56 66
57 70
58 70
59 71
60 73
61 73
62 74
63 75
64 75
65 76
66 76
67 76f.
68 78
69 78f.
70 79
71 79
72 79
73 80
74 80f.
75 81
76 81
77 85f
78 87
79 87
80 88
81 88f.
82 89f.
83 90
84 91
85 91f.
86 92
87 92
88 92
89 93
90 93
91 94
92 94
93 95
94 95f.
95 96
96 97
97 98f.
98 99
99 99
100 99f.
101 100f.
102 102
103 102
104 103
105 103
106 103
107 106
108 107
109 107
110 108
111 109
112 109f.
113 110
114 110
115 111
116 111f.
117 112
118 112
119 112
120 112f.
121 113
122 113f.
123 114
124 114
125 114
126 114
127 115
128 115
129 115
130 115f.
131 116
132 116
133 116f.
134 117
135 117
136 118
137 118
138 119
139 120
140 120f.
141 122f.
142 123
143 123f.
144 124
145 124
146 124f.
147 125
148 125f.
149 131
150 133
151 134
152 134
153 135f.
154 139
155 139
156 140
157 140
158 140
159 140
160 141f.
161 148
162 179
163 149
164 150
165 150
166 150
167 151
168 151
169 151
170 152
171 154
172 155
173 156

 


Peter Groves

Dr Peter Groves was educated at the universities of Exeter and Cambridge in the United Kingdom and teaches poetry, Shakespeare and Renaissance English literature in the School of English, Communications and Performance Studies at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia. He is the author of a series of articles on poets from Chaucer to Philip Larkin and the theoretical monograph Strange Music: The Metre of the English Heroic Line.