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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: May ::
Re: Tillyard
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0392.  Tuesday, 16 May 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Robert F. O'Connor <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 16 May 1995 10:18:35 +0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0389  Re: Tillyard
 
(2)     From:   Chris Stroffolino <LS0796@ALBNYVMS.BITNET>
        Date:   Monday, 15 May 1995 20:54:15 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0389  Re: Tillyard
 
(3)     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 16 May 1995 12:05:07 GMT
        Subj:   Re: Tillyard
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Robert F. O'Connor <
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Date:           Tuesday, 16 May 1995 10:18:35 +0700
Subject: 6.0389  Re: Tillyard
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0389  Re: Tillyard
 
Robert Appelbaum is correct in identifying Dollimore as a major influence on
the 'discreditation' of Tillyard, but I don't agree that *Radical Tragedy*
decided the matter.  I have always felt that Dollimore and his fellow Cultural
Materialists had rather more in common with Tillyard than they were comfortable
to admit, particularly on methodological grounds. Both Dollimore and Tillyard
rest much of there arguments on assertion - constant iteration of some
authoritative THIS IS SO! - rather than 'proof' - insofar as proof is possible
in something as subjective as literary criticism.  Even beyond the methodology,
there is their mutual dependence on essentially the same texts, viewed from
ideologically dissimilar positions, to put forward theit cases - though I
concede that in Dollimore's case, the choice of texts may have been determined
by the fact that Tillyard used them.
 
It is true to say that Tillyard was searching for consensus, while much recent
criticism seems to focus on conflict, but in their single-minded attempts to
'prove' their point, both Historicism and Cultural Materialism are claiming
that there is a single right interpretation of Shakespeare, and that theirs are
the best pointers to it.  Robert Appelbaum, in referring to Ulysses' infamous
'degree' speech, has reminded us that there are a plurality of possible
interpretations - something which I think is anathema to the Tillyards and
Dollimores of Shakespearean criticism.  But I have to wonder why Mr Appelbaum
thinks that the plays are any better a source of insight into the period than
non-dramatic writing, or even privately-circulated material.  Everything was
subject to _kinds_ of censorship, especially the drama - a factor which
contributes to the ultimate unverifiablility of most hypotheses about
Elizabethan or Jacobean literature.  If he has any doubt about this, I refer
him to Richard Dutton's *Mastering the Revels* (Macmillan, 1991).
 
Robert F. O'Connor

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English Department
Australian National University
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Stroffolino <LS0796@ALBNYVMS.BITNET>
Date:           Monday, 15 May 1995 20:54:15 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0389  Re: Tillyard
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0389  Re: Tillyard
 
Dear Robert Applebaum---the Ulyssean "world order" in the context of the play
from which it's taken is quite clearly exposed as flawed by Shakespeare itself.
it didn't take Dollimore to see this. earlier writers like Frye and Harold
Goddard also pointed out that this world view was a ruse of rhetoric being
manipulated...in Ulysses at least...because Shakespeare himself so often
subverts the "world view" expressed in official accounts of that time (though
he has a character mouth it; and the subversion is no doubt lost on many both
then and now), one can conjecture that just as the "World View of the 1990's:
seen from a historical perspective may fail to account for much subversive
thought but rather accept the Bell Curve or the World Weekly News (which this
week has a headline that says "WHAT THE FBI DOESN'T WANT YOU TO KNOW: ARAB PAID
OKLAHOMA BOMBING TERRORISTS") as a "world view'...Maybe my analogy is flawed,
but though the "world view" of Tillyard (or the work of Greenblatt for
instance) is helpful in a way, we should be careful to reduce the Renaissance
and all its writers to one "world view." Even if we take a Marxist approach,
that is NOT claiming ahistoricity for Shakespeare, we may see that today's
culture in many ways is of the same historical phase as Shakespeare's....
 
Chris Stroffolino
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Tuesday, 16 May 1995 12:05:07 GMT
Subject:        Re: Tillyard
 
Robert Appelbaum is slightly misleading when he says the problem isn't that
Tillyard is dated. The Elizabethan World Picture is very precisely dated and
that is exactly the problem. The book appeared in Britain in 1943 and its
commitment to an ideal of consensus within an ordered, golden age obviously
reproduces and reinforces many of the nostalgic fantasies of that turbulent
time. In fact its last sentence addresses the book directly to the 'present
conflicts and distresses' of the second World War. It remains, above all, an
imaginative response to that event, rather than a work of 'pure' scholarship.
But who ever met one of those?
 
Terence Hawkes
 

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