Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: July ::
Re: Bloom on Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1532  Tuesday, 29 July 2003

[1]     From:   William Sutton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 28 Jul 2003 07:55:41 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1519 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

[2]     From:   Martin Steward <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 28 Jul 2003 15:33:13 +0100
        Subj:   SHK 14.1519 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

[3]     From:   Edmund Taft <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 28 Jul 2003 13:44:48 -0400
        Subj:   Bloom on Hamlet

[4]     From:   Sean Lawrence <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Monday, 28 Jul 2003 16:03:30 -0700
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1519 Re: Bloom on Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Sutton <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 28 Jul 2003 07:55:41 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 14.1519 Re: Bloom on Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1519 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

My thanks to those still continuing this discussion.  The interesting
thoughts Bruce Young included are at the core of what I'm perhaps
inarticulately trying to express.

Martin Steward seems to have fixed me stuck within a particular theory,
Humanism; to which I refer him to my disavowal of any one theory in
favour of another.  My apologies for not being clear with the term
'critical theory': I meant 'literary criticism' as opposed to 'literary
theory'.

Critic, n. One who pronounces judgement; censurer; judge of literary or
artistic works; one skilled in textual criticism. Which definition
prompts the question: when does criticism become theory?

Martin's list is quite correct (except perhaps for Hamlet since
Shakespeare himself wrote that. Unless he's referring to the Ur-Hamlet)
and I would add more, such as Thomas Bright and all the others who wrote
treatises on melancholy, plus all the books on orthography and rhetoric,
plus Michael Drayton, who as a lifetime friend of Shakespeare would have
shared speculations with him on theory and philosophy in regard to their
time, such as Giardino Bruno. I would include Ovid and Chaucer too and
most importantly Montaigne as big influences on the writer Shakespeare.
That Shakespeare was an early humanist along the lines of Erasmus and
Montaigne is for me patently clear.

I stated, "The thing we share is humanity (NOT Humanism) and that is not
only reason and intelligence, but also my physical, emotional, and
spiritual being." Martin replied, 'They might have asked, as I would,
how I could share "my physical, emotional, and spiritual being" with
anyone. My answer to this is the very basis of moral philosophy. How can
you not if you are to practice justice, temperance, fidelity,
compassion, mercy, humility etc.? Or as is more common, their
antitheses?  Or is Martin saying that these human parts only belong to
humanism and are absent in all other theories?

In fact my purpose is to find out which theories Shakespeare gave
credence too. What I theorise is not the point here, though obviously
this continued discussion proves that it is. Paradox?!

My theories are quite rightly as Hugh Grady says, as did I in my mail,
'hinged on a paradox'. I agree, it does not mean that only theorists
contemporary with Shakespeare are relevant, he too had a wealth of
ancient and modern theories to wade through, but it does tell us which
theories were relevant to Shakespeare and the works that he wrote. I am
familiar with the Tillyard example and the new historicist refutation
because of his set of assumptions and ideologies of his present. but
surely that doesn't invalidate the Chain of Being or Humoral
psychology?  And frankly if that's the best example you can come up with
to defend modern scholarship, my point about twentieth-century theorists
is won. (for the time being)!

It is not my intention here to denigrate Shakespeare scholarship. This
list though is made up of many minds not only the scholastic. Bruce
Young's quotes are closer to what I'm feeling. The aridity of post
modern theories is contrary to the life that I find in the works of
Shakespeare. Also I know I am part and parcel of my present and
therefore cannot escape it by harking back to some earlier historical
theory that clarifies it all. I am making do with the cards that have
been dealt. 'No, I am that I am, and they that level at my abuses reckon
up their own,' Sonnet 121.  That's my theory.

Yours,
William Sutton

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 28 Jul 2003 15:33:13 +0100
Subject: Re: Bloom on Hamlet
Comment:        SHK 14.1519 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

C. S. Lewis is quoted as writing:

"The advance in knowledge gradually empties this rich and genial
universe: first of its gods, then of its colours, smells, sounds and
tastes, finally of solidity itself as solidity was originally imagined.
As these items are taken from the world, they are transferred to the
subjective side of the account: classified as our sensations, thoughts,
images or emotions.  The Subject becomes gorged, inflated, at the
expense of the Object."

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. It cannot be emphasized
enought that neither phenomenology nor deconstruction have anything to
do with "scepticism", which is entirely subjective. We should rather be
thinking about how these methodologies follow on from a radical critique
of subject/object binarism or dualism. This is how we get to the
(Althusserian?) point recognised by Hugh Grady, writing on Greenblatt:
"In short", as he observes, there can be "no historicism without a
latent presentism". Greenblatt would be the first to agree.

m

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Edmund Taft <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 28 Jul 2003 13:44:48 -0400
Subject:        Bloom on Hamlet

Dear Colleagues:

I seldom get involved in discussions of theory, but I feel obliged to
comment on part of Hugh Grady's response:

>E. M.  W. Tillyard presented a highly truncated, ideologically informed
>"Elizabethan World Picture" in an attempt to do exactly what Sutton proposes,
>focus on Shakespeare's contemporaries to illuminate his plays.  Numerous
>critics have by now been able to show the extent to which Tillyard's version
>of Elizabethan culture was in turn constructed by him from a set of assumptions
>and ideologies of his present.

Yes, and Hugh is being rather kind here.  In fact, Tillyard basically
ripped off Lovejoy while giving him minimal credit. Then Tillyard
oversimplified and distorted Lovejoy for clearly ideological purposes.

I'd add that Sutton also fails to consider that art often anticipates
insights/theories rigorously formulated only much later. The obvious
case is Greek drama and Freud.  Another one, closer to home, is
Coriolanus and modern theories of male and class anxiety. To use
Sutton's rule would mean that future generations would have to interpret
Updike and Pyncheon by using the likes of  Billy Graham and Norman
Vincent Peale as exemplars of "the commonplaces of the age."

It's easy to see how far off base they will be if they follow this
advice. To disagree a bit with Bruce (not for the first time), all
lenses are not pretty much the same.

--Ed Taft

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Sean Lawrence <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Monday, 28 Jul 2003 16:03:30 -0700
Subject: 14.1519 Re: Bloom on Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1519 Re: Bloom on Hamlet

Hugh Grady writes,

>Theory is inescapable, whether to
>early 21st century readers or to early 17th century writers.
>(Importantly, theory in this sense need not mean static, Scholastic
>systems of concepts such as have sometimes been put forth or taken as
>the only form theory can take.)

Indeed.  Unfortunately, the inescapability of theory in general seems to
be trotted out every so often to justify particular theories.  I'm quite
certain that nobody who says that they don't like "Theory" is objecting
to thought as such, or to presuppositions in general (prejudices, in the
Gadamerian sense).  On the contrary, they're usually objecting to
someone else's presuppositions, perhaps the presuppositions of our
field, fashionable elements thereof, the academy, or even society as a
whole

>The main problem here, of course, is that there is no innocent
>interpretation of the theories of Shakespeare's contemporaries.

Indeed there isn't.  It hardly follows, however, that in talking about
others we are merely talking about ourselves.  Nor does it justify the
egotism of refusing to look at anything other than our own thought
processes, of refusing to be challenged by what is alterior or
different.

The problem of communication with the past is merely a specific case of
communication with the Other in general.  It is therefore as much a
question of ethics as of historiography.

Yours,
Sean.

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.