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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: August ::
Re: Bloom on Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1544  Friday, 1 August 2003

[1]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 30 Jul 2003 09:37:21 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1536 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

[2]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 30 Jul 2003 11:58:36 -0400
        Subj:   Bloom on Shakespeare

[3]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 30 Jul 2003 14:47:23 -0700
        Subj:   Truncated post


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jack Heller <
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Date:           Wednesday, 30 Jul 2003 09:37:21 -0500
Subject: 14.1536 Re: Bloom on Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1536 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

Regarding Billy Graham and Norman Vincent Peale, I find it rather
telling that their influence is located within politics rather than
within religion:

While I wouldn't say that I held the latter two in high esteem as major
thinkers of the 20th Century, there is no doubt that (a) they represent
most clearly very important aspects of recent American culture, and (b)
had immense influence on it, probably more than any other thinkers.
Granted, their influence was primarily in politics rather than
literature, but I would say that they had great importance to Updike and
Pyncheon as representatives of what they were writing against.

Jack Heller
Huntington College

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Wednesday, 30 Jul 2003 11:58:36 -0400
Subject:        Bloom on Shakespeare

The other Bloom (Don) writes:

>If Tillyard so radically changed Lovejoy then he could hardly
>have ripped him off.

Not so. As I stated elsewhere, Tillyard oversimplified and distorted
what he "borrowed." In my edition of _The Elizabethan World Picture_,
there is only one sentence on the Acknowledgements page that refers to
Lovejoy.

Don also writes:

>Granted, [the influence of Graham and Peale] was primarily in politics rather than
>literature, but I would say that they had great  importance to Updike
>and Pyncheon as representatives of what they were writing against.

Doubly not so. First, Graham and Peale's major influence was/is on
religion, especially in America. Second, Updike is influenced by
theologians, especially Karl Barth. Whether Pyncheon is in any way
religious is a vexed question, with the majority opinion being "No."

Don's puzzlement seems forced and contrived.

--Ed Taft

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Wednesday, 30 Jul 2003 14:47:23 -0700
Subject:        Truncated post

Hi all,

Somehow, my response to Martin Steward's posting of two days ago was
truncated in transmission.  I blame Bill Gates, not Hardy, since I've
never had this problem except with Outlook.  In any case, this gives me
a chance to respond also to Hugh Grady's message.

Martin Steward responds to Bruce Young's quotation of C. S. Lewis:

 >What Lewis is lamenting is precisely the Enlightenment project that
 >thinkers such as Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Heidegger and the like were
 >trying to overturn, and it is these thinkers who provide the
 >philosophical bedrock for later deconstruction.

That's true.  But it still seems like a valid criticism of those critics
who most loudly declare themselves deconstructionists, perhaps because
they are themselves startlingly ignorant of the philosophical bedrock on
which their own ideas are built.

A great deal of recent theory in our field, heavily influenced as it is
by the social sciences, seems to be trying to extend the enlightenment
project, "demystifying" or "deconstructing" (perhaps in abuse of both
terms) everything which cannot be understood in the most banal (albeit
sometimes scholastically complicated) terms of power or money.  It
reduces, in other words, what is Other to the Same.  Hence, Stephen
Greenblatt's insistence "that in my most intense moments of straining to
listen all I could hear was my own voice", and his abandonment of any
pretenses to hear "the voice of the Other".  Hence also Ed Pechter's
criticism of New Historicism as "a criticism of recognition, of knowing
again what one knew before".

I admire Hugh's work on the Gale series, which I've referred to
occasionally and will probably rely upon more in my new institution,
which has a very small library.  That critics of any particular epoch
betray the influence of ideas current in their time doesn't mean that
their observations don't also enjoy a certain validity, however.  It
remains profitable to read Jonson on Shakespeare, or Tolstoy.

I'm worried, more generally, that in emphasising the difficulties in
reading works from the past, Hugh underestimates our ability to have any
experience of texts other than recognition, than knowing again what one
already knew before.  More seriously, presentists seem at times to
extend what is only an empirical observation into an imperative, that we
ought not to allow ourselves to be surprised, to welcome the Other as a
stranger.

I should think that cultivating the humility involved in such a welcome
would help to guard us against the "interpretational hubris" by which we
confuse our own opinions with categorical truth, and which Hugh sees as
"the occupation disease of academia".  Saying that everyone is already
suffering from this disease seems tantamount to accepting it as normal,
not a disease at all, and therefore abandoning all efforts to cure
ourselves.

Yours,
Sean Lawrence
(
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