Nuttall, A.D. 1937–

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Nuttall, A.D. 1937–

(Anthony David Nuttall)

PERSONAL: Born April 25, 1937, in Hereford, England; son of Kenneth (a schoolmaster) and Hilda Mary (Addison) Nuttall; married May Donagh, July 1, 1960; children: William James, Mary Addison. Education: Merton College, Oxford, B.A., 1959, M.A., 1962, B.Litt., 1963.

ADDRESSES: Home—175 Divinity Rd., Oxford OX4 1LP, England. Office—New College, Oxford OX1 3BN, England. Agent—c/o Writer's Representatives, 116 W. 14th St., 11th Fl., New York, NY 10011-7305. E-mail[email protected].

CAREER: University of Sussex, lecturer, 1962–70, reader in English, 1970–73, professor of English, 1973–84, pro-vice chancellor, 1978–81; New College, Oxford, fellow, 1984–; Oxford University, Oxford, England, reader in English, 1990–92, professor of English, 1992–.

AWARDS, HONORS: South East Arts literature prize, 1980, for Overheard by God.


William Shakespeare: The Winter's Tale, Edward Arnold (London, England), 1966.

Two Concepts of Allegory: A Study of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" and the Logic of Allegorical Expression, Barnes & Noble (New York, NY), 1967.

(Editor, with D. Bush) John Milton, The Minor Poems in English, Macmillan (London, England), 1972.

A Common Sky: Philosophy and the Literary Imagination, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1974.

Dostoevsky's "Crime and Punishment": Murder as Philosophic Experiment, Scottish Academic Press for Sussex University Press (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1978.

Overheard by God: Fiction and Prayer in Herbert, Milton, Dante and St. John, Methuen (London, England), 1980.

A New Mimesis: Shakespeare and the Representation of Reality, Methuen (London, England), 1983.

Pope's Essay on Man, Allen & Unwin (London, England), 1984.

Timon of Athens, Twayne Publishers (Woodbridge, CT), 1989.

The Stoic in Love: Selected Essays on Literature and Ideas, Barnes & Noble, (New York, NY), 1990.

Openings: Narrative Beginnings from the Epic to the Novel, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1992.

Why Does Tragedy Give Pleasure?, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1996.

The Alternative Trinity: Gnostic Heresy in Marlowe, Milton, and Blake, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1998.

Dead from the Waist Down: Scholars and Scholarship in Literature and the Popular Imagination, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 2003.

Also author, with Arthur Raleigh Humphreys, of phonotape, "Coriolanus," BFA Educational Media, 1972. Contributor to Critical Quarterly, Review of English Studies, and other publications.

SIDELIGHTS: A.D. Nuttall's work often combines religious scholarship with literary criticism, as in his books Overheard by God: Fiction and Prayer in Herbert, Milton, Dante and St. John and The Alternative Trinity: Gnostic Heresy in Marlowe, Milton, and Blake. He has written studies of Shakespeare's works and John Milton's poems, and on such topics such as philosophy and the literary imagination, murder, and the uses of tragedy.

Openings: Narrative Beginnings from the Epic to the Novel examines in depth how epics, long stories, novels, and other lengthy works begin, and how those beginnings affect readers' reaction to and relation with the story. Nuttall looks at formal and natural types of openings, and discusses how some writers tend to start their stories in medias res—in the middle of the action—while others prefer to begin at the beginning. In his work, Nuttall evinces a "graceful display of classical and modern scholarship" throughout his analysis, noted critic Avrom Fleishman in the Journal of English and Germanic Philology.

Why Does Tragedy Give Pleasure? finds Nuttall analyzing the seeming contradiction that readers derive pleasure from tragedy. Based on a series of lectures he gave in 1992, Nuttal's chapters offer these topics: "Aristotle and After," "Enter Freud," "The Game of Death," and "King Lear." He considers Aristotle's ideas of katharsis, and provides discussions of major works of literature, the works of philosophers such as Nietzsche, and the role tragedy plays in creating a satisfying experience for the reader. Ultimately, the pleasure that readers take from works of tragedy is "a pleasure qualified but also intensified by the fact that we are learning to recognize something terrible, important, and probable," observed Lars Engle in Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900.

The Alternative Trinity: Gnostic Heresy in Marlowe, Milton, and Blake explores Nuttall's theory that Gnosticism gave Christopher Marlowe, John Milton, and William Blake "a refuge from oppressive Christian orthodoxies" that affected their writing and what they could write about, commented John Rumrich in Modern Philology. Nuttall identifies a basic tenet of Gnosticism, that the Father is a tyrannical force opposed by the Son. This antagonism and conflict with traditional Christian doctrine formed the atmosphere in which the authors' greatest works were created. Rumrich called the study "a wonderfully informative and provocative series of insights into the theology, poetry, and culture of early modern England."

In Dead from the Waist Down: Scholars and Scholarship in Literature and the Popular Imagination, Nuttall approaches a topic he knows well, academia and scholarship, and how practitioners are often stereotyped as being so intent on poring through dusty books and manuscripts that they have no time for anything else—not even sex and relationships with other humans. In contrast, noted Patrick Henry in Christian Century, the scholar once enjoyed the "Renaissance ideal of the swashbuckling voyager, the potent and alluring man" of means and ability. Nuttall analyzes how this image of the scholar began to transform in the nineteenth century, and how scholarship became equated with a dry, dusty lifestyle that was itself a sort of death of normal human interaction. For Nuttall, however, this is not a reason to grieve missed opportunities to consort with one's fellows. Sheldon Rothblatt, writing in Victorian Studies, concluded that Nuttall's book is "an old-fashioned tribute to scholars and to scholarship, to the pleasures of reading classics or encountering classical ideas, to the fine points and the small things, the footnotes and the indices, the apparatus and scaffolding of learning." Library Journal reviewer Felicity D. Walsh called the book a "valuable scholarly work."

Nuttall told CA: "The only language I speak easily is English, but I enjoy reading Latin verse (especially Horace). Am interested primarily in the connection between the study of literature and the study of philosophy. Have in addition a less articulate passion for the art and architecture of Italy."



Christian Century, February 24, 2004, Patrick Henry, review of Dead from the Waist Down: Scholars and Scholarship in Literature and the Popular Imagination, p. 56.

Criticism, winter, 1969, review of Two Concepts of Allegory, p. 106.

Journal of English and Germanic Philology, January, 1994, Avrom Fleishman, review of Openings: Narrative Beginnings from the Epic to the Novel, p. 134.

Library Journal, October 15, 2003, Felicity D. Walsh, review of Dead from the Waist Down, p. 70.

Modern Language Review, April, 2001, David Loewenstein, review of The Alternative Trinity: Gnostic Heresy in Marlow, Milton, and Blake, p. 465.

Modern Philology, November, 2001, John Rumrich, review of The Alternative Trinity, p. 306.

Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900, spring, 1997, Lars Engle, review of Why Does Tragedy Give Pleasure?, p. 428.

Times Literary Supplement, April 24, 1981, review of Overheard by God, p. 458.

Victorian Studies, winter, 2004, Sheldon Rothblatt, review of Dead from the Waist Down, p. 327.