In 1960, Professor Donald R. Pearce edited and published a small volume entitled The Senate Speeches of W. B. Yeats.1 Some editorial decisions Pearce made serve to focus attention on what the distinctive features of spoken, instigative discourse may be.2 Pearce included in his volume of "speeches" a body of extensively interrupted discourse on divorce, delivered in the Irish Senate. This material comprises remarks by Yeats and seven other senators plus a number of interruptive observations and rulings by the presiding officer of the Senate. The editor says he chose to present this discourse "practically in its entirety, partly as the best way of incorporating necessary information, and partly to preserve the context of excitement" surrounding what was "probably Yeats's forensic showpiece."3 Elsewhere in his collection Pearce included what he titled, "Divorce: An Undelivered Speech."4 This editor's inclusion and treatment of materials satisfy common sense. Why? To ask the question is to draw attention to seldom discussed aspects of rhetorical speech: contextual information must be supplied if oral rhetoric (or its printed remains) is to be open to full understanding, and to think of an "undelivered speech" is not to be self-contradictory. I propose in this essay to
Philosophy and Rhetoric – Penn State University Press
Published: Apr 16, 2007
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