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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: November ::
Re: Presentism
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1197  Friday, 27 November 1998.

[1]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 Nov 1998 14:08:14 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.1186 Re: Presentism and Maps

[2]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Thursday, 26 Nov 1998 10:53:23 -0500
        Subj:   Presentism


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 Nov 1998 14:08:14 -0800
Subject: 9.1186 Re: Presentism and Maps
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.1186 Re: Presentism and Maps

David Evett asks:

> Was there a kind of presentist debate toward the end of C16 between
> a traditional view of history as morally exemplary (Sidney recommending
> the Cyropedia because the essentials of governing well had not changed
> in two millenia) and a more material view, more aware of a past
> materially different from their present, emerging from the antiquarian
> study of Camden et al.?

Certainly in military arts there seems to have been.  Machiavelli spends
a lot of _The Art of War_ arguing that the knowledge of the ancients is
still applicable, even on the gunpowder battlefield.  In Henry V,
Fluellen concerns himself with the ancient "disciples of war" (most of
which he gets wrong, but that's besides the point), a fascination that
Macmorris finds pointless.

Cheers,
Sean.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Thursday, 26 Nov 1998 10:53:23 -0500
Subject:        Presentism

Dear Robin Headlam Wells,

Unfortunately, the lengthy and closely reasoned account of Presentism
that I sent to the list in response to your request was wiped out by the
recent mishap Hardy has described. At 5,000 words it may even have
caused it.  However, on reflection, I don't know that I can improve upon
Hugh Grady's admirably succinct and lucid statement. Perhaps I can just
quote one or two of my conclusions that linger in the memory: History is
far too important to be left to historians who believe themselves able
to make contact with a 'past' unshaped by their own concerns. In
practice, it is woven from a never-ending dialogue between present and
past.  In that process, the present is not an obstacle to be avoided, or
a prison to be 'escaped from' as David Lindley puts it. Quite the
reverse: it's a factor to be actively sought out, grasped and perhaps,
as a result, understood. A Shakespeare criticism which takes that on
board will not yearn to speak with the dead.  It will aim, in the end,
to talk to the living.

Terence Hawkes

PS It would expedite matters if those currently joining in the
traditional chorus of 'We Know This Already' could move on to the second
stage of the Order of Service for the Rejection of Terms and Concepts
That Might Be Uncomfortable, where the relevant Collect begins 'Surely
This Is All In Coleridge's Biographia Literaria'.  You might mention
this in your sermon, Robin.
 

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