Names as Metaphors in Shakespeare’s Comedies

We are delighted to present to you the recent work of our colleague Prof. Grant W. Smith (Eastern Washington University).

Prof. Grant Smith is a well-known researcher with an excellent reputation in the onomastic world. For several decades he has had an intense activity, quantified by publications in scientific journals, proceedings, participation in congresses and conferences in America, Europe, Israel, and administrative functions in top organisations such as ANS and ICOS.
In “Names as Metaphors in Shakespeare’s Comedies”, the author proposes a collection of analytical essays on Shakespeare’s fourteen comedies plus an introduction. This book offers a novel perspective on the names of characters in Shakespeare’s comedies. From the author’s perspective, literature is not propaganda, with arguments for ideas and policies, but an expression of basic human emotions. With extensive experience in literary onomastics, onomastic theory, and semiotics, Professor Grant W. Smith crowns with this volume his longstanding interest in anthroponymic analysis and Shakespeare’s plays.

Dr. Oliviu Felecan
Technical University Of Cluj-Napoca
North University Center Of Baia Mare, Romania

‘Names as Metaphors in Shakespeare’s Comedies’ presents a comprehensive study of names in Shakespeare’s comedies. Although names are used in daily speech as simple designators, often with minimal regard for semantic or phonological suggestiveness, their coinage is always based on analogy. They are words (i.e., signs) borrowed from previous referents and contexts, and applied to new referents. Thus, in the literary use of language, names are figurative inventions and have measurable thematic significance: they evoke an association of attributes between two or more referents, contextualize each work of literature within its time, and reflect the artistic development of the writer.

In the introduction, Smith describes the literary use of names as creative choices that show the indebtedness of authors to previous literature, as well as their imaginative descriptions (etymologically and phonologically) of memorable character types, and their references to cultural phenomena that make their names meaningful to their contemporary readers and audience. This book presents fourteen essays demonstrating the analytical models explained in the introduction. These essays focus on Shakespeare’s comedies as presented in the First Folio. They do not follow the chronological order of their composition; instead, the individual essays give special attention to differences between the plays that suggest Shakespeare’s artistic development, including the varied sources of his borrowings, the differences between his etymological and phonological coinages, the frequency and types of his topical references, and his use of epithets and generics.

This book will appeal to Shakespeare students and scholars at all levels, particularly those who are keen on studying his comedies. This study will also be relevant for researchers and graduate students interested in onomastics.

He can be reached at gsmith@ewu.edu.