587. ACCORDING TO…

According to X means “in X’s opinion”, “if what X says is true”.

According to Harry, it’s a good film.

The train gets in at 8,27, according to the timetable.

We do not usually give our opinions with according to. Compare:

According to Ann, her boyfriend is brilliant.

(= If what Ann says is true, …)

In my opinion, Ann’s boyfriend is an idiot. (NOT According to me,...)

(Taken from Michael Swan, Practical English Usage, Oxford)

586. CLOAK AND DAGGER

CLOAK AND DAGGER

Any operation that involves some intrigue, especially the melodramatic undercover activities of those involved in espionage or other secret work.

Cloak-and-dagger plays were swashbuckling adventures popular in the seventeenth century. In France, a performance of this type was known as a comédie de cape et d’épée and this is the direct source of the English phrase “cloak and dagger”.

The name also appears in the Spanish comedias de capa y espada, literally “comedies of cloak and sword”, particularly those by the Spanish dramatists Lope De vega (1562-1635) and Calderòn (1600-81), although their plays were dramas of merely domestic intrigues.

Taken from: Judy Parkinson, Spilling the Beans on the Cat’s Pyjamas, Michael O’Mara Books Limited

585. TO CROSS THE RUBICON

 


To take an irrevocable step, to burn one’s bridges, to go beyond the point of no return.

     The Rubicon was a smaller river, which formed the border between ancient Italy and Cisalpine Gaul, the province allocated to Julius Caesar (100-44 BC).  When Caesar crossed this stream in 49 BC, he went beyond the limits of his own province and thus became an invader in Italy, making the outbreak of war between Pompey (106-48) and the Senate inevitable.

    “The Rubicon” is now often used alone as a description of “the point of no return”.

     Taken from Judy Parkinson, “Spilling the Beans on the Cat’s Pyjamas”, Michael O’Mara Books Limited.

584. WAS SHAKESPEARE A PLAGIARIST?


Shakespeare may have plagiarized long-lost 1576 manuscript.

     Plagiarism software used to check student essays for copied work has uncovered an unpublished 1567 manuscript as the possible source for more than 20 excerpts from the plays of William Shakespeare.The handwritten work by George Noth, titled A Brief Discourse of Rebellion, has been highlighted by independent scholar Dennis McCarthy and La Fayette College professor June Schlueter as the potential inspiration behind several of the Bard’s famed monologues after running it through plagiarism detection software WCopyfind.The duo found traces of Noth’s work, focused on the dangers of rebelling against a king, in over 20 of Shakespeare’s passages, including, among other things, the Fool’s Merlin prophecy in King Lear and the comparison of dog breeds to different classes of men in Macbeth.  When taking one example of a similar passage in Shakespeare’s writing – the Duke of Gloucester’s opening monologue in Richard III – the scholars found the software detected “a tight juxtaposition of the same eight terms: glass, proportion, fair, feature, deformed, world, shadow, nature. Having run these words – which occur within 77 words in Noth’s writing and within 92 in Shakespeare’s – through a database of over 60,000 English books, McCarthy and Shlueter found no other work featured the same eight words in a single passage comprised of 200 words.In the book, they go onto claim that “the likelihood of Shakespeare juxtaposing these four shared terms by chance is less than one in a billion”.They added: “By sheer chance, Shakespeare hit these first four words, he still then has to match the next four words: Nature, shadow, deformed, world. This would be like hitting a national lottery twice in a row.”

From The Independent (Jacob Stolworthy )