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Chapter 5 - Plain Talk

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 August 2022

Matthew Hunter
Affiliation:
Texas Tech University
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Summary

Celebrated as one of the foundational stylistic achievements of early modernity, plain talk is characterized primarily in terms of what it is not: not conspicuous, not decorated, not Latinate, not complicated. Plain talk is the most unmarked style imaginable. Scholars have generally consulted written works like Bacon’s essays for examples of this paradoxically styleless style, but this chapter turns to drama because drama stages the effects that the plain style has – or was hoped to have – on others. In city comedies like Ben Jonson’s Every Man in His Humour, Thomas Middleton’s A Chaste Maid at Cheapside, and John Marston’s Dutch Courtesan, plain talk projects a speaker who is, or seems to be, in public exactly as they are in private. But there is also a palpable anxiety that swirls around dramatic depictions of plain talk. It is a style that gains its full meaning and force from its relation to other styles. But it is also the result of plain talk’s distinguishing lack of distinguishing features. Brimming beneath any iteration of this unmarked style is the dread that it will go unremarked, lost in the anonymity of public life.

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The Pursuit of Style in Early Modern Drama
Forms of Talk on the London Stage
, pp. 192 - 229
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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  • Plain Talk
  • Matthew Hunter, Texas Tech University
  • Book: The Pursuit of Style in Early Modern Drama
  • Online publication: 26 August 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009042345.006
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

  • Plain Talk
  • Matthew Hunter, Texas Tech University
  • Book: The Pursuit of Style in Early Modern Drama
  • Online publication: 26 August 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009042345.006
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Plain Talk
  • Matthew Hunter, Texas Tech University
  • Book: The Pursuit of Style in Early Modern Drama
  • Online publication: 26 August 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009042345.006
Available formats
×