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Samuel Johnson's Views of Shakespeare's use of Quibbles

Samuel Johnson in his “Preface to Shakespeare” talks of quibble to refer the reader to a particular (defect/attitude of Shakespeare) Shakespearean attitude in writing. A quibble is a sort of pun or a verbal trick that, to Johnson, holds some “malignant power” over one’s mind as it was o Shakespeare. Johnson says that Shakespeare did not spare a single quibble that would come to his way and he would even forget to pursue his own course of action in his drama no matter how profound and grave it is, if he found a quibble. In Johnson’s wording, “A quibble is to Shakespeare, what luminous vapors are to the traveler” and consequently it misleads the follower. It is the irresistible fascination of quibble that does not let Shakespeare’s attention be on his expected excellence and so the work grows dull or loses the usual ripeness. Comparing the force of quibble to the myth of golden apple and so the work grows dull or loses the usual ripeness. Comparing the force of quibble to the myth of golden apple and again to the beauty of “the fatal Cleopetra”. Johnson basically tried to anticipate the would be glory of Shakespeare that he lost only by picking up the quibble/ giving the quibble sufficient room I his writing.

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