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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: August ::
Re: Tillyard (Again)
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1593  Tuesday, 12 August 2003

[1]     From:   Don Bloom <
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        Date:   Monday, 11 Aug 2003 09:26:00 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1563 Re: Tillyard (Again)

[2]     From:   Marcus Dahl <
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        Date:   Monday, 11 Aug 2003 16:19:31 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1583 Re: Tillyard (Again)

[3]     From:   Carol Barton <
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        Date:   Monday, 11 Aug 2003 11:31:06 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1583 Re: Tillyard (Again)

[4]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
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        Date:   Monday, 11 Aug 2003 14:10:33 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1583 Re: Tillyard (Again)


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Don Bloom <
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Date:           Monday, 11 Aug 2003 09:26:00 -0500
Subject: 14.1563 Re: Tillyard (Again)
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1563 Re: Tillyard (Again)

Terence Hawkes writes,

>This kind of assertion is then bolstered by 'can't lose' reasoning of
>the following sort:
>
>'There are so few references to the Pauline scheme of redemption in the
>sonneteers and dramatists that this insistence on its being essential to
>the Elizabethan world picture might well be disputed. Yet this very
>scarcity is a sign of extreme familiarity . . .' ('The Elizabethan World
>Picture', London: Chatto, 1943. p 16).
>
>Breathtaking or what?

I don't wish to be petty, but I thought this absence-is-presence idea
was in vogue. Derridean, and all that. I am fully willing to accept the
idea there is a crucial difference between Tillyardean absence and
Derridean absence, but I'd appreciate having it clarified for me.

Cheers,
don

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Marcus Dahl <
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Date:           Monday, 11 Aug 2003 16:19:31 +0100
Subject: 14.1583 Re: Tillyard (Again)
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1583 Re: Tillyard (Again)

Dear All,

Do we really wish to disagree with Tillyard's proposition which Terence
Hawkes thinks a form of political retort:

>'. . .the 'real' Elizabethan age -the
>quarter-century from 1580 to 1605- was after all the great age', ... '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).

Surely as with any academic criticism or literary opinion there is a
natural dialogue between proponents of different views. Certainly T.S.
Eliot's work on the 'Metaphysical' poets (leaving aside F.R.Leavis for a
moment) though a terrific read was largely an imagined poet's view of
history - it was more poetic manifesto for the kind of poetry Eliot
appreciated than an attempt to understand the driving forces of the
Early Modern age /poet. Tillyard, though a generalist (like many of his
time) was in this sense attempting to recover a more historical
'commonsense' view of the period.

And yes you do have to be mostly orthodox to succeed in 1592. Ask Nashe
or Greene on this point.

Best,
Marcus Knave to the Chaps Dahl

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Carol Barton <
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Date:           Monday, 11 Aug 2003 11:31:06 -0400
Subject: 14.1583 Re: Tillyard (Again)
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1583 Re: Tillyard (Again)

Ed Taft cites Tillyard's "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)" (116 in my Pimlico edition),
interpreting it thus:

>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

I think this is a misreading of Tillyard's intent, Ed. Until the 18th
century, the modus operandi was to rework the work of the past, to take
the "orthodox" (Homer, for example----or Saxo Grammiticus) and reshape
it:
Tillyard is arguing, I think, that *because* Spenser, Sidney, Raleigh,
Shakespeare, Jonson, and Milton work within rather than against the
received epistemology of their ages and transform it by more subtle
subversion, they are successful in revealing truths that "everybody
knows," but no one has previously been able to articulate, or to
articulate as exquisitely as these writers do---whereas those who attack
the received epistemology outright---such as Donne in his
_Anniversaries_--have less impact on the thinking of the age. The world
does not "legislate" poetry or art (unless one is a Marxist); but
certainly the major poets, writers, and philosophers of any period
reflect and reinterpret and transcend the thinking of their respective
ages . . . and capture some abiding Truth of the human condition in
their creations that ensures that their works will endure. Almost any
Shakespearean or Spenserian or Miltonic sonnet will do for an example:
they weren't the first (and won't be the last) to feel and experience
the things they write about---but who before or since has described them
so exquisitely? We make fun of Petrarch today, but he revolutionized the
poetry of his time, working within the existing framework to reach
beyond. That's what I think Tillyard meanstersay.

Best to all,
Carol Barton

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
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Date:           Monday, 11 Aug 2003 14:10:33 -0700
Subject: 14.1583 Re: Tillyard (Again)
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1583 Re: Tillyard (Again)

Dear all,

I've been reading the comments on Tillyard, as part of the thread
initiated by Gabriel Egan, and it occurs to me that Tillyard's principle
function as a critic is now that of a scapegoat, a figure against which
critics can unite themselves into schools. Hence, his continued interest
for us. Although his ideas have been rather thoroughly criticized in the
past, he has to be led once again to the same smoking altars.

Paul N. Siegel's opinion (according to Hugh Grady) "that Tillyard had
defined the Elizabethan ruling ideology and that his analysis was an
essential one for any left-wing approach to Shakespeare" seems to raise
a spectral possibility that must be exorcised, that left-wing critics
are just doing Tillyard over again, as are other critics who align a
text's meaning with the common-places of the age that produced it.

Yours,
Sean Lawrence,
Okanagan University College

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