A Feast of Language: Hardy’s Allusions

  • Mary Rimmer


I begin with an allusion of my own, from Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost. ‘A feast of language’ is adapted from the cutting aside the page Moth makes about three pedants (his master Don Armado, Sir Nathaniel, and Holofernes) as they flourish learned greetings at each other: ‘They have been at a great feast of languages, and stol’n the scraps’ (V.i). Moth refers in part to the pedants’ habit of sprinkling their talk with ostentatious Latin words, and to their obsessive quibbling over the meanings, proper uses and even pronunciation of words, but his comment, especially as I have paraphrased it for my title, can also refer more generally to the ridiculous figure pedants cut by making a display of their learning. They attempt to lay claim to the rich feast of linguistic or literary tradition, but manage only to steal a few scraps.


Paradise Lost Cultural Authority Dead Metaphor Psychological Security Heroic Narrative 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • Mary Rimmer

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