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Home :: Archive :: 1996 :: September ::
Re: Old Criticism (Barker vs. Bradley)
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 7.0706.  Monday, 30 September 1996.

(1)     From:   Paul Hawkins <
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        Date:   Sunday, 29 Sep 1996 10:01:37 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Old Criticism

(2)     From:   Harry Hill <
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        Date:   Sunday, 29 Sep 1996 11:08:00 +0000 (HELP)
        Subj:   Old Harley Granville-Barker

(3)     From:   Gabriel Egan <
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        Date:   Sunday, 29 Sep 96 17:20:43 BST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0795 Barker vs. Bradley

(4)     From:   David M Richman <
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        Date:   Monday, 30 Sep 1996 13:51:19 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0702 Re: Old Criticism

(5)     From:   Ed Pechter <
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        Date:   Sunday, 29 Sep 1996 14:08:44 +0000 (HELP)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 7.0795  Barker vs. Bradley


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Paul Hawkins <
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Date:           Sunday, 29 Sep 1996 10:01:37 -0400 (EDT)
Subject:        Old Criticism

Thanks to Andrew Walker White for pointing out how Granville-Barker's brilliant
reflections on all aspects of the theatrical conception of the plays make him
much more than "Bradley and water."

But those whose thinking on the psychological or other inferences that the
plays encourage us to make begins and ends with L.C. Knights would do well to
re-read A.D. Nuttall's brief discussion of "How many children had Lady
Macbeth?" in *The New Mimesis*:  "It is strange that so coarse a piece of
reasoning should have passed for a great stroke of destructive theory. . . .
Knights's ill-made shaft misses both Shakespeare and Bradley [and doubtless
Granville-Barker] and falls on stony ground.  But the stony ground, it must be
confessed, received it with joy" (82-83).

I'm sure SHAKSPERians will continue to profit from Granville-Barker's
*Prefaces* and from A.C. Bradley's *Shakespearean Tragedy,* which should
certainly join the list (unless I've missed someone's recommendation of it) of
earlier twentieth century criticism worth our continued attention.

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Harry Hill <
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Date:           Sunday, 29 Sep 1996 11:08:00 +0000 (HELP)
Subject:        Old Harley Granville-Barker

One wonders if perhaps supremely intelligent and productive Terenve Hawkes
lives in Brave New World, where the Controllers exercise their powers with
"Alexandria....whisk! Rome.....whisk! Jesus Christ....whisk!
Granville-Barker...whisk!" in a thorough cleansing of the past.

As Goethe observed, in a language where the statement makes a richer sense, `If
an idea is wanting, a word can always be found to take its place.'

He also said, of course, that "Wir sind alle Pilger auf der Erde" [we're all
pilgrims on the earth], which the cheap of mind may reduce at will to
"Everyone's entitled to their opinion".

        Harry Hill

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
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Date:           Sunday, 29 Sep 96 17:20:43 BST
Subject: 7.0795 Barker vs. Bradley
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0795 Barker vs. Bradley

Andrew Walker White says of Granville-Barker

>He discussed the bare thrust stage, the informal workshop atmosphere that
>produced the plays.

Yes he did, but without properly evaluating the evidence for either. One might
want to consider the ubiquity of touring and court performances, which present
an obstacle to both. The use of city inns and private indoor playhouses also
needs to be added to GB's simple amphitheatre model.

>his practical understanding of stagecraft as an actor/playwright/producer, his
>insistence on the infallibility of the text (his observations on 'bad quartos'
>are quite convincing to me), and especially his efforts to reintroduce the
>thrust stage which was the source of all the Bard's works, lead me to conclude
>that his influence is not a fluke at all, but one that is well deserved.

That's a big claim for the influence of the thrust stage. Unwarranted
confidence in Granville-Barker's "practical understanding of stagecraft" led to
his errors being long overlooked; eg his insistence on the absence of act
intervals in performance.

Gabriel Egan

(4)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David M Richman <
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Date:           Monday, 30 Sep 1996 13:51:19 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 7.0702 Re: Old Criticism
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0702 Re: Old Criticism

I'm not surprised that poor old Granville-Barker comes in for some
disparageent.  The giants of our day, like the old gods,sometimes feast on
their forbears.  If you have to stage the thing, G.B. can be helpful. His is
certainly not the last word, but it is a helpful word. David Richman

(5)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ed Pechter <
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Date:           Sunday, 29 Sep 1996 14:08:44 +0000 (HELP)
Subject: 7.0795  Barker vs. Bradley
Comment:        Re: SHK 7.0795  Barker vs. Bradley

I too remember getting a lot of useful ideas out of Granville- Barker.  But why
set up G-B's virtues against Bradley's defects? The idea that Bradley wasn't
interested in the original production conditions of Shakespeare is a bum rap, I
think.  In "Shakespeare's Theater and Audience," Bradley spoke admiringly of
Poel and revealed up to date knowledge about the Renaissance public theater as
building and social and cultural institution. What's more, his speculations
sound in many ways up to our date as well--his accommodating Shakespeare not
unlike Stephen Greenblatt's, his crossover audiences not unlike Andrew Gurr's.

Why do we keep reproducing an oversimplified image of Bradley as antitheatrical
and antihistorical?  What's at stake?  Is it ritual scapegoating? ressentiment?
embarrassment at our own residual Victorianism? some want of intellect? a
rather tough worm in our little inside?  Tell me, he (or she) that knows.
 

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