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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: August ::
Re: Tillyard (Again)
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1583  Monday, 11 August 2003

[1]     From:   Bill Arnold <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Aug 2003 05:56:39 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Will S's Religious Faith in the Natural Order of the Universe

[2]     From:   Martin Steward <
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        Date:   Friday, 8 Aug 2003 14:16:45 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 14.1576 Re: Tillyard (Again)

[3]     From:   Edmund Taft <
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        Date:   Friday, 08 Aug 2003 11:30:52 -0400
        Subj:   Tillyard (Again)

[4]     From:   Jan Pick <
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        Date:   Saturday, 9 Aug 2003 02:47:29 -0700
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1576 Re: Tillyard (Again)

[5]     From:   Hugh Grady <
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        Date:   Sunday, 10 Aug 2003 10:58:54 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1576 Re: Tillyard (Again)

[6]     From:   Terence Hawkes <
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        Date:   Monday, 11 Aug 2003 07:18:01 -0400
        Subj:   SHK 14.1576 Re: Tillyard (Again)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Arnold <
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Date:           Friday, 8 Aug 2003 05:56:39 -0700 (PDT)
Subject:        Will S's Religious Faith in the Natural Order of the Universe

Hugh Grady writes of "the dubious assumption that behind every
Shakespearean play is a religious faith in the natural order of the
universe and that tragedy, in particular, is all about 'restoring' that
order."

Well, I'll be darned.  I must confess, but all my natural-born life I
have been one of those readers of Shakespeare who has been under this
assumption, dubious or not?

So, I ask SHAKSPEReans, considering this a topic worthy of its own
moniker, is this a dubious assumption or not?  Is there "behind every
Shakespearean play...a religious faith in the natural order of the
universe and that tragedy, in particular, is all about 'restoring' that
order"?

Bill Arnold

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
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Date:           Friday, 8 Aug 2003 14:16:45 +0100
Subject: Re: Tillyard (Again)
Comment:        SHK 14.1576 Re: Tillyard (Again)

"Thus Tillyard saw contradiction rather than a monolithic model at the
heart of the World Picture, and importantly it was the site of ongoing
contestation as the work of Machiavelli and Copernicus (Tillyard 1943,
73) provided new reasons to reject traditional ideas and the ruling
dynasty sought to marshal ideological support for its own rule: 'Somehow
the Tudors had inserted themselves into the constitution of the medieval
universe' (Tillyard 1943, 6). This is all far from the stable and
monolithic view that Tillyard's critics claim that he promulgated."

Much of the criticism levelled at E. M. W. Tillyard's contextualization
of the plays (in both EWP and SHP) as reflections of Elizabethan
commonplaces aims to remind us that inherently dialogic drama is unlike
straightforward polemic, and yet by these virtues even more effective in
shaping the terms of political debate, especially at the popular level.
Tillyard famously claims that Ulysses's oration in Troilus and Cressida
"cannot be fully felt apart from orthodox theology", and is "without
meaning apart from the proper background of cosmic order by which to
judge it". But as Jonathan Dollimore points out, it is peculiar to argue
that cosmic order and cosmic chaos exist simultaneously, and it makes
much more sense to see such utterances as self-consciously political,
figuring an exaggerated social chaos against which to consolidate
autocratic power. These kinds of rhetorical strategy, generic as they
are, complicate ideological positioning: "To the extent that it posits
an underlying, primordial state of dislocation, the language of chaos
mystifies social process. To the extent that it interrogates
providentialist belief - robbing the absolute of its mystifying function
- it foregrounds social process".

E. M. W. Tillyard, The Elizabethan World Picture (Penguin ed.),
pp.17-24; Jonathan Dolimore, Radical Tragedy: Religion, Ideology and
Power in the Drama of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries (Brighton
1984), pp.42-44

m

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
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Date:           Friday, 08 Aug 2003 11:30:52 -0400
Subject:        Tillyard (Again)

Gabriel:

You write:

"Indeed, my suspicion is that bad teaching of Tillyard is what the
post-1980s attacks on him have really been reacting to."

This is a shrewd observation. In a sense, you are right, but one might
ask, "Whose bad teaching, and when?" I know that when I went to college,
my teacher used Tillyard to lay down the law. This is how it is, and no
questions allowed. I wonder if a lot of scholars who attended college
pre-1980 (as I did) experienced the same thing and reacted to it
negatively when they got the chance?

Moreover, it's fair to say that few of us (certainly not me) have read
every-thing Tillyard mentions, and so the average Shakespearean has to
rely on Tillyard's being balanced and fair.

Is he? Really?  I wonder what Gabriel and others think of part of the
conclusion to EWP:

"Secondly, the old truth that the greatest things in literature are the
most commonplace is quite borne out. . . . The truth is illustrated that
the poet is most individual when most orthodox and of his age. . .
(108).

Isn't this the heart of the matter for Tillyard?  Shelley is wrong.
Poets are not the unacknowledged legislators of the world. Just the
opposite is true. Moreover, the real worth of art resides in its
commonplaces. That's its true intellectual content. Those who see art as
prophetic (as Spenser did!) and as containing the seeds of the future
are wrong. Art must be measured only by how orthodox it is, and the
older and the more orthodox the better.

Isn't this what some scholars and readers dispute? And isn't this the
real message that Tillyard wants to anoint as absolute truth?

Best wishes,
--Ed

Tillyard, E.M.W. _The Elizabethan World Picture_ New York: Randon House,
n.d.

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jan Pick <
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Date:           Saturday, 9 Aug 2003 02:47:29 -0700
Subject: 14.1576 Re: Tillyard (Again)
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1576 Re: Tillyard (Again)

If a viewpoint of the time then moves us forward - even to disagree as
later scholarship gives fresh insights and readings - then surely it has
a place at least as a reflection on what was current thinking or
questioning at the time it was written.  Knowledge is an inverted
pyramid.

Jan Pick

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Hugh Grady <
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Date:           Sunday, 10 Aug 2003 10:58:54 -0400
Subject: 14.1576 Re: Tillyard (Again)
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1576 Re: Tillyard (Again)

Gabriel Egan's defense/interpretation of Tillyard last week reminded me
of an article by American Marxist Paul N. Siegel, "Tillyard
Lives--Historicism and Shakespeare's History Plays," in the journal
"Clio," v. 9 (1980): 5-23.  Siegel argued that Tillyard had defined the
Elizabethan ruling ideology and that his analysis was an essential one
for any left-wing approach to Shakespeare and Co. Such interpretations
are always possible, but there comes a point when the horse should be
pronounced dead!

Cheers,
Hugh Grady

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Terence Hawkes <
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Date:           Monday, 11 Aug 2003 07:18:01 -0400
Subject: Re: Tillyard (Again)
Comment:        SHK 14.1576 Re: Tillyard (Again)

It's misleading to see Tillyard's scholarship as objective and
innocent.  Whatever else it may have been, 'The Elizabethan World
Picture' was also to some degree a shot fired in a continuing war over
the nature of the subject known as 'English' and the way the
'Englishness' it promoted should be transmitted, not just in Britain,
but  in India, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the West Indies, and
large parts of Africa. In short, a good deal was at stake both in
cultural and political terms. Tillyard's main adversary at Cambridge was
F. R. Leavis.  For his part, Leavis responded by nominating Tillyard 'my
enemy'  and 'the arch ward-boss' (Ian MacKillop, 'F. R. Leavis: a Life
in Criticism', London: Penguin Books, 1997, p. 178) It's important to
recognize that some of what Tillyard presents as the 'general
deductions' to be drawn from his survey of the 'Elizabethan World
Picture' are in fact carefully designed refutations of the re-drawn
'map' of English literature fostered by Leavis, Leavis's journal
'Scrutiny', and the American T. S. Eliot.  Thus Tillyard's supposedly
'commonplace' conclusion that  '. . .the 'real' Elizabethan age -the
quarter-century from 1580 to 1605- was after all the great age', is
carefully hinged to a specific agenda by the sentences that immediately
follow it: 'Recent attempts to shift the centre of new creative energy
to the Metaphysical poets, though intelligible, will not really do . . .
etc.' (EWP, London: Chatto, 1943, p. 100). Leavis's and Eliot's
capacities as bearers of 'Englishness' are thus, I suspect, at the heart
of Tillyard's anxieties and they lurk, importunate shades, beneath the
pages of his book.

Terence Hawkes

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