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From a Treatise of Homonyms

Denis Hollier and Leslie Martin
Style
Vol. 19, No. 2, Orality and Rhythm (Summer 1985), pp. 199-212
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42946194
Page Count: 14
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From a Treatise of Homonyms
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Abstract

In Poetic Art, Matthew Casteleyn, a Dutch follower of the rhetorician Molinet, advised his poet countrymen not to borrow his model's doctrine of the rhyme: equivocations should not cross the French linquistic border. More recently, an article published in Diacritics states about the rime équivoqué. "This is an effect which the English language could not achieve." From both sides of the border, the outer as well as the inner one, the French language is defined by the threatening and despicable privilege to pun where it should rhyme. This essay traces some of the phobic reactions to homonymy which, having started immediately after the Grands Rhétoriqueurs, contributed to the creation of the cultural delicacy known as "poésie française." It suggests, further, that modern criticism, so actively committed to generalize a rhyme without reservation, can be considered in many ways a revival of the Rhétoriqueurs' joyful linguistic practices.

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