A. C. Bradley

A. C. Bradley

Andrew Cecil Bradley (1851–1935) was an English literary scholar, best remembered for his work on Shakespeare.


The outcome of his five years as Professor of Poetry at Oxford University were A. C. Bradley’s two major works, "Shakespearean Tragedy" (1904), and "Oxford Lectures on Poetry" (1909). All of his published work was delivered earlier as lectures. Bradley's pedagogical manner and his self-confidence made him a real guide for many students to the meaning of Shakespeare. His influence on Shakespearean criticism was so great that the following anonymous poem appeared::I dreamt last night that Shakespeare’s Ghost:Sat for a civil service post.:The English paper for that year:Had several questions on King Lear:Which Shakespeare answered very badly:Because he hadn’t read his Bradley.::(Hawkes 1986 as cited in Taylor 2001: 46) [Taylor, Michael. "Shakespeare Criticism in the Twentieth Century", p. 40. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.]

Though Bradley has sometimes been criticised for writing of Shakespeare's characters as though they were real people, his book is probably the most influential single work of Shakespearean criticism ever published.Fact|date=September 2008 It has been reprinted more than two dozen times and is itself the subject of a scholarly book, Katherine Cooke's "A. C. Bradley and His Influence in Twentieth-Century Shakespeare Criticism". [Cooke, Katherine. "A. C. Bradley and His Influence in Twentieth-Century Shakespeare Criticism". Oxford: Clarendon, 1972.]

By the mid-twentieth century his approach became discredited for many scholars; often it is said to contain anachronistic errors and attempts to apply late 19th century novelistic conceptions of morality and psychology to early 17th century society. Kenneth Burke's 1951 article "Othello: An Essay to Illustrate a Method" [Burke, Kenneth. [http://www.parlorpress.com/shakespeare.html "Kenneth Burke on Shakespeare"] . Parlor Press, 2007.] counters a Bradleyan reading of character, as L. C. Knights had earlier done with his 1933 essay "How Many Children Had Lady Macbeth?" (John Britton has pointed out that this was never a question actually posed by Bradley, and apparently was made up by F. R. Leavis as a mockery of "current irrelevancies in Shakespeare criticism." [Britton, John. "A. C. Bradley and those Children of Lady Macbeth." "Shakespeare Quarterly", Vol. 12, No. 3 (Summer 1961), pp. 349-351.] ) Since the 1970s, the prevalence of poststructuralist methods of criticism has resulted in students turning away from his work, although a number of scholars have recently returned to considering [http://shakespeare.mcgill.ca/character.html 'character'] as a historical category of evaluation (for instance, Michael Bristol).

Bradley's other works include "Poetry for Poetry's Sake" (1901), "A Commentary on Tennyson's In Memoriam" (1901), and "A Miscellany" (1929).


ee also

*Timeline of Shakespeare criticism

External links


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