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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: May ::
Re: Tillyard
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0398.  Thursday, 18 May 1995.
 
(1)     From:   James Schaefer <SCHAEFEJ@GUVAX.BITNET>
        Date:   Wednesday, 17 May 1995 11:11:37 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Thin ice
 
(2)     From:   John Drakakis <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 17 May 95 19:03:00 BST
        Subj:   SHK 6.0394 Re: Tillyard
 
(3)     From:   Nicholas Ranson <R1NR@AKRONVM>
        Date:   Wednesday, 17 May 95 23:24:02 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0394  Re: Tillyard
 
(4)     From:   R.D.H.Wells <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 17 May 1995 20:35:27 +0100 (BST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0392 Re: Tillyard
 
(5)     From:   Sally Greene <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 17 May 1995 17:25:23 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0392 Re: Tillyard
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           James Schaefer <SCHAEFEJ@GUVAX.BITNET>
Date:           Wednesday, 17 May 1995 11:11:37 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Thin ice
 
Bill Godshalk is right to warn us about forcing imaginative works to bear the
burden of their time.  They may hold a mirror up to nature, but it is a thin
and delicate mirror, easily distorted or broken.  No kid gloves needed, but a
keen awareness of their imaginative structure and what that structure can bear
is always in order.
 
Jim Schaefer
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John Drakakis <
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Date:           Wednesday, 17 May 95 19:03:00 BST
Subject: Re: Tillyard
Comment:        SHK 6.0394 Re: Tillyard
 
Depends on how we read it Bill,
 
Yours,
John Drakakis
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Nicholas Ranson <R1NR@AKRONVM>
Date:           Wednesday, 17 May 95 23:24:02 EDT
Subject: 6.0394  Re: Tillyard
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0394  Re: Tillyard
 
Why does EMW get tagged with all the obloquy from cultural materialists? Did
nobody think to tag A.O.Lovejoy's Great Chain of Being, which is the spine of
Tillyard's thinking?  I ain't been lurking: jus' got back from the walleye
capital  of the world, Port Clinton. Fact is, Eliz World Pix is a great place
to start for any undergraduate: you can teach with it and against it so well.
Cheers. N.
 
(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           R.D.H.Wells <
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 >
Date:           Wednesday, 17 May 1995 20:35:27 +0100 (BST)
Subject: 6.0392 Re: Tillyard
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0392 Re: Tillyard
 
I'm afraid I missed the original piece of correspondence about Tillyard. But
today I see that  Robert F. O'Connor writes: 'Robert Appelbaum is correct in
identifying Dollimore as a major influence on the 'discreditation' of Tillyard.
It would be more true to say that Dollimore has taken major responsibility for
the resurrection of Tillyard as bogeyman.
 
What Dollimore omits to mention in his radical demolition of Tillyard is that
people have been saying pretty much the same kind of thing for the last forty
years. Here is Helen Gardner writing in 1953:
 
 'The "Elizabethan World Picture" tidily presented to us as a system of
  thought cannot tell us how much of that picture had truth and meaning
  for an Elizabethan. And even if we could discover a kind of highest
  common factor of contemporary beliefs and attitudes, it could not tell
  us what an individual believed, and certainly not what Shakespeare
  believed.' (The Historical Method, 1953)
 
Gardner goes on to warn that we have to be wary of claims for a 'background'
that will somehow 'explain' 'literature' and says that we have constantly to
remind ourselves that when we interpret the past, it is in part our own age
that we are describing. 'The historical imagination is itself historically
conditioned' says Gardner. Hiram Haydn makes similar objections to the notion
of monolithic 'World Picture' in _The Counter Renaissance_(1950).
 
In its concern to present itself as a radical and dissident movement, Cultural
Materialism has painted a misleading picture of 20th-century criticism. By
selective quotation it's easy enough to make it appear that the ghost of
Tillyard lives on. But the dominant mode of mid-century Renaissance criticism
was not a slavish veneration of Tillyard and his simplified war-time view of
Elizabethan England, but a fruitful alliance between new-critical methods of
close analysis, and a relatively sophisticated form of historicism that
acknowledges that you can never recover the past in any objective form. For
these critics Shakespeare's plays do not mirror a unified historical period;
instead they offer what WR Elton describes as 'a dialectic of ironies and
ambivalences, avoiding in its complex movement and dialogue the simplifications
of direct statement and reductive resolution'. Cultural Materialism is oddly
silent on this whole critical tradition.
 
Robin Headlam Wells
 
(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sally Greene <
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Date:           Wednesday, 17 May 1995 17:25:23 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0392 Re: Tillyard
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0392 Re: Tillyard
 
Terence Hawkes' point about the date of *The Elizabethan World Picture* is well
taken.  Its post-World War II moment is of course the same as that of Olivier's
*Henry V.*  (In her 1994 *Irony's Edge,* Linda Hutcheon considers Olivier's vs.
Branagh's versions.)  Hawkes' reference to the last page of the book reminded
me of what's on the first page: a reference to Virginia Woolf's *Orlando*
(1928).  Now, as a Woolf scholar I have for a long time enjoyed my own theory
that Tillyard was actually driven by Woolf's outrageously dis-ordered take on
the Renaissance!
 
I've found a bit of support for this idea in Richard Lanham's *The Motives of
Eloquence.*  He posits two extreme views of the world, the entirely serious and
the entirely rhetorical.  Although a person who is purely one or the other
would be hard to find, he says, different people do line up at different
points.  In this scheme, Woolf and Tillyard are poles apart.
 
Sally Greene
UNC-Chapel Hill
 

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