Reference > Cambridge History > The Age of Dryden > The Restoration Drama > His Diction
  His Comic Art His Friends and Way of Life  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VIII. The Age of Dryden.

VI. The Restoration Drama.

§ 9. His Diction.


In nothing does Congreve prove his art more abundantly than in the rhythm and cadence of his speech. His language appeals always to the ear rather than to the eye. So fine a master of comic diction was he, that, in every line he wrote, you may mark the rise and fall of the actor’s voice. His words, in brief, were written to be spoken; he sternly excludes whatever is harsh or tasteless; and we in our studies may still charm our ears with the exquisite poise of his lines, because the accent still falls where he meant that it should fall, the stage effect may still be recovered in the printed page. He arranges his vowels with the same care which a musician gives to the arrangement of his notes. He avoids the clashing of uncongenial consonants, as a maker of harmonies refrains from discord. Open Love for Love or The Way of the World, where you will, and you will find passages which, by the precision wherewith they fit the voice, would give you pleasure, were they deprived of meaning.   17

CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  His Comic Art His Friends and Way of Life  
 
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