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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: October ::
Re: Literature, Facts. and Gary Taylor
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0847.  Thursday, 26 October 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Dan Vitkus <
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        Date:   Wedbesday, 25 Oct 1995 10:51:33 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   RE: SHK 6.0801  Re: Shakespeare, Literature, and Importance
 
(2)     From:   Norman J. Myers <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 Oct 1995 16:19:52 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0841  Re: Historical Facts
 
(3)     From:   Joseph M Green <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 Oct 1995 16:04:58 -0500 (CDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0841  Re: Facts and Gary Taylor
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Dan Vitkus <
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Date:           Wedbesday, 25 Oct 1995 10:51:33 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: 6.0801  Re: Shakespeare, Literature, and Importance
Comment:        RE: SHK 6.0801  Re: Shakespeare, Literature, and Importance
 
On "literature" and its definition, see the entry in Raymond Williams'
Keywords_ and the beginning of Terry Eagleton's _Literary Theory: An
Introduction_.  This will set the conservative curmudgeons straight.
 
Dan Vitkus
The American University in Cairo
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Norman J. Myers <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 Oct 1995 16:19:52 -0400
Subject: 6.0841  Re: Historical Facts
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0841  Re: Historical Facts
 
No, I don't want to jump into the "historical facts" discussion.  So much
insight from so many minds so much more perceptive than mine makes me humble
(and not a little dizzy).  I just thought perhaps (or perhaps not) I could
lighten up things with some quotes.
 
First from Thucydides:
 
"The way most men deal with traditions, even traditions of their own country,
is to receive them all alike as they are delivered, without applying any
critical test whatever. . . ." [Gee, I wonder if by "traditions" he might mean
academic habits of thought?]
 
Or Bernard Shaw in "The Devil's Disciple" when Burgoyne tells Swindon that the
British army will soon be facing 16,000 rebels at Saratoga because of a
bureaucratic blunder:
 
Swindon:  I cant believe it! What will History say?
Burgoyne:  History, sir, will tell lies, as usual.
 
Or Finley Peter Dunne's Mr. Dooley on history: (get your Irish accents out)
 
"Historyans is like doctors.  They are always lookin' f'r symtoms.  Those iv
them that writes ab out their own times examines th' tongue an' feels th' pulse
an' makes the wrong dygnosis.  Th' other kind iv histhry is a post-mortem
examination.  It tells ye what a counthry died iv.  But I'd like to know what
it lived iv."
 
Or, finally, from that greatest of all critiques of contemporary academia,
"Calvin and Hobbes":
 
Calvin:  We don't understand what really causes events to happen.  History
        is the fiction we invent to persuade ourselves that events are knowable
        and that life has order and direction.  That's why events are always
        reinterpreted when values change.  We need new versions of history to
        allow for our current prejudices.
 
Hobbes:  So what are you writing?
 
Calvin:  A revisionist autobiography.
 
Naturally, no SHAKSPERian need see herself or himself here.
 
Norman Myers
Theatre Department
Bowling Green State University
 
(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Joseph M Green <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 Oct 1995 16:04:58 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: 6.0841  Re: Facts and Gary Taylor
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0841  Re: Facts and Gary Taylor
 
Christine Mack Gordon notes that Gary Taylor asks us to "play along with him"
and is grateful that his book is free of jargon --unlike postmodern theory,
which is "less than useful" and mostly tedious -- and is also grateful that
Taylor is not deadly serious, unlike so many. Claiming that there is nothing of
Shakespeare in any Shakespeare criticism, as Taylor does, and that
interpretation is always reinvention for the reasons he gives is as
"postmodern" as one might wish.  Claiming that all critics do is offer various
versions of themselves, that they should desist at once, and that Shakespeare's
"apologists" are corrupted "courtier critics" who "licke absurd pompe/ and
crook the pregnant hinges of the knee" seems pretty serious to me.  Not many
believe the fellow a hanging them is just playing.  But it is wonderful what a
breezy style and the affectation of witty unseriousness can do: the tedium and
dread of the postmodern disappears as it is dumbed down, the nudge in the ribs,
the easy bon mot distracts...
 
It is possible here to get a doctorate in English literature without ever
having had a course in Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer.  And why not since what
is wanted is the ability to produce just that version of oneself that the age
demands while producing a version of... whoever... and, this is (especially
with Shakespeare that naughty vortex removed) just what witty fellows would
wish.
 

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