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#2691. 英語の諺の受容の歴史[literature][proverb][rhetoric]

2016-09-08

 Simpson の英語諺辞典のイントロ (x) に,その受容の歴史が概説されていた.簡潔にまとまっているので,以下に引用する.

It is sometimes said that the proverb is going out of fashion, or that it has degenerated into the cliché. Such views overlook the fact that while the role of the proverb in English literature has changed, its popular currency has remained constant. In medieval times, and even as late as the seventeenth century, proverbs often had the status of universal truths and were used to confirm or refute an argument. Lengthy lists of proverbs were compiled to assist the scholar in debate; and many sayings from Latin, Greek, and the continental languages were drafted into English for this purpose. \ By the eighteenth century, however, the popularity of the proverb had declined in the work of educated writers, who began to ridicule it as a vehicle for trite, conventional wisdom. In Richardson's Clarissa Harlowe (1748), the hero, Robert Lovelace, is congratulated on his approaching marriage and advised to men his foolish ways. His uncle writes: 'It is a long lane that has no turning.---Do not despise me for my proverbs.' Swift, in the introduction to his Polite Conversation (1738), remarks: 'The Reader must learn by all means to distinguish between Proverbs, and those polite Speeches which beautify Conversation: . . As to the former, I utterly reject them out of all ingenious Discourse.' It is easy to see how proverbs came into disrepute. Seemingly contradictory proverbs can be paired---Too many cooks spoil the broth with Many hands make light work: Absence makes the heart grow fonder with its opposite Out of sight, out of mind. Proverbs could thus become an easy butt for satire in learned circles, and are still sometimes frowned upon by the polished stylist. The proverb has none the less retained its popularity as a homely commentary on life and as a reminder that the wisdom of our ancestors may still be useful to use today.


 中世から初期近代までは,諺は議論などでも用いられる賢き知恵として尊ばれていた.実際,16--17世紀には,諺は文学や雄弁術の華だった.John Heywood (1497?--1580?) が1546年に諺で戯曲を著わし,Michael Drayton (1563--1631) がソネットを書き,16世紀の下院では諺による演説もなされたほどだ.ところが,18世紀以降,諺は知識人の間で使い古された表現として軽蔑されるようになった.とはいえ,一般民衆の間では諺は生活の知恵として連綿と口にされてきたのであり,諺文化が廃れたわけではない.諺が用いられる register こそ変化してきたが,諺そのものが衰えたわけではないのである.
 なお,最古の英語諺集は,宗教的,道徳的な教訓を納めた,いわゆる "Proverbs of Alfred" (c. 1150--80) である.初学者にラテン語を教える修道院,修辞学の学校,説教などで言及されることにより,諺は広められ,写本にも保存されるようになった.

 ・ Simpson, J. A., ed. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs. Oxford: OUP, 1892.
 ・ Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica 2008 Ultimate Reference Suite. Chicago: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2008.

Referrer (Inside): [2018-08-22-1]

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