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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: May ::
Re: Tillyard
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0403.  Saturday, 20 May 1995.
 
(1)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Thursday, 18 May 1995 22:57:28 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0398  Re: Tillyard
 
(2)     From:   Lonnie Durham <
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        Date:   Friday, 19 May 95 01:20:11 CST
        Subj:   Tillyard
 
(3)     From:   Imtiaz Habib <
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        Date:   Friday, 19 May 1995 20:56:23 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0398 Re: Tillyard
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Thursday, 18 May 1995 22:57:28 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 6.0398  Re: Tillyard
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0398  Re: Tillyard
 
Obviously I'm skeptical about the relationship of imaginative writing (i.e.,
writing in which a writer is not dedicated to telling the truth -- no matter
what definition of "truth" you assume) and the lived life of any historical
period. The central problem is that we can only in our imaginations reconstruct
that lived life, so that the relationship is between two imaginative
constructions, one ours, one theirs.
 
If we consider imaginative writing from our own time, the case is altered. I
would not take Thomas Pynchon's <i>Crying of Lot 49</i> as a guidebook to
California; others might. But, if you do meet Oedipa, please give her my email
address and ask her to write.
 
Yours, Bill Godshalk
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Lonnie Durham <
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Date:           Friday, 19 May 95 01:20:11 CST
Subject:        Tillyard
 
I've just got to put a word in here because the discussion is so much about my
academic adolescence and my academic fathers.  Theodore Spencer (with a "c" or
"s"?  I can't remember) was Tillyard's great American disciple; C.L. Barber was
Spencer's most brilliant student.  Barber intimated to me once that Spencer's
position on Order and Degree was so densly defended that he (Barber) struggled
for years to find a chink into which he might drive an argument for the
positive functions of MISRULE; hence the strategy of SHAKESPEARE'S FESTIVE
COMEDIES.  Northrup Frye, too, was provoked into taking on Tillyard's High
Anglican orthodoxy in "The Argument of Comedy," where he came up with a sort of
Maurice Sendakian ("Where the Wild Things Are") notion of the psychological and
moral benefits of visiting a "green world."  Jan Kott got even more orgiastic
in his EATING THE GODS. One would think someone would have noticed, even before
all that back-and-forth, what a thorough inversion and violation of hierarchy
the incarnation was.  (constituted? represented? presented?)
 
So I guess I would take a kind of Harold Bloom  Anxiety of Influence approach
to the whole issue.  Tillyard, spurred by whatever historical circumstances,
created a brilliant machine for organizing our attention toward the plays in a
certain way, and much of what has been done in Sh. scholarship and criticism
since has been in response to that invention.  Calling his work "dated" is
merely another strategy for overcoming the tyranny of a set of ideas whose
after-tremors are still felt in the cellars of contemporary Shakespeare
commentary.  I haven't read it, but from what I've gathered, Leonard
Tennenhouse's POWER ON DISPLAY may be a tougher, less elegant and less
sentimental re-issue of the arguments of the Great Chain Gang.  In any case, I
am always a bit annoyed when someone suggests that we are making progress
toward a less distorted and less self-interested view of the plays.  Rather, I
think we are merely left to elaborate the field of allegory delineated by the
last interpretive genius.  For better or worse, Foucault seems to be the one
have set the task for the most recent crop of explainers.  I swear, if I see
another conference agenda featuring a list of topics on "The Body," I'm going
to scream.
 
As always, yours,
Lonnie Durham
 
P.S. (a propos of nothing): As Orlando says to his trusty old Adam, "Live a
little." (2.6.5)
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Imtiaz Habib <
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Date:           Friday, 19 May 1995 20:56:23 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 6.0398 Re: Tillyard
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0398 Re: Tillyard
 
If we're talking about "the demolition" of Tillyard, what about Robert
Ornstein's A KINGDOM FOR A STAGE: THE ACHIEVEMENT OF SHAKESPESARE'S HISTORY
PLAYS?
                                                Imtiaz Habib
                                                UNLV, Las Vegas.
 

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