Mended Speech

How, how, Cordelia, mend your speech a little
Lest you may mar your fortunes.
— Shakespeare, 
King Lear, 1.1.94-95

My endeavor to create a hypertext/multimedia King Lear began with these lines.  Though I ended up going in various other directions, Mended Speech is my favorite portion of the project.

Mended Speech is based on two concepts:

  • The more literal portion of the project presents page-long portions of King Lear alongside an embroidery stitched onto the actual page of text.  These particular pages were taken from the Norton Anthology of English Literature, 7th edition.  I suppose embroidery is not exactly mending.  However, each embroidered portion of Shakespeare’s text is also accompanied by found poems and erasures.  I’ve included audio for all the poems I composed (one was contributed by a colleague).  I’ve also made spaces for others to contribute.  Feel free to contribute yourself.
  • I often find myself with the tune “When Flying Fame” stuck in my head, especially when I’m sewing.  It’s repetitive, not too distracting, and not too sad all on its own.  One of the many ballads sung to this tune is “King Lear and his Three Daughters.”  Naturally, then, I pushed the idea of mended speeches further to think about intersections between the play and the ballad.  A few of the texts are tuned to “When Flying Fame” and sung, which you can hear via audio links on the site.  I’ve also incorporated the tune into other portions of the hypertext/multimedia project.

As the hypertext/multimedia Lear grew, I linked portions of Mended Speech to the other sites.  Readers can enter the hypertext anywhere, but if you’d like to start with what I consider the front page, visit Foolish Text.  If you’d like to learn more about the project in general, click here.