Anthony Nuttall

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For the rugby league footballer for Ireland, Newsome Magpies, and Oldham Bears, see Anthony Nuttall (rugby league).

Anthony David Nuttall (April 25, 1937 – January 24, 2007) was an English literary critic and academic.

Nuttall was educated at Hereford Cathedral School, Watford Grammar School for Boys and Merton College, Oxford, where he studied both Classical Moderations and English Literature.[1] As a postgraduate he wrote a B.Litt thesis on Shakespeare's The Tempest subsequently published as Two Concepts of Allegory (1968), and considered by some to be his most original book. Nuttall first taught at Sussex University where he was successively lecturer, reader and professor of English and where his students included the philosopher A. C. Grayling and the critic and biographer Robert Fraser. After a tumultuous period as pro-vice chancellor at Sussex, he moved on to New College, Oxford, in 1984, eventually being elected to an Oxford chair. His published works include studies of Shakespeare and works on the connections between philosophy and literature. Prominent among the first is Shakespeare the Thinker (2007), in which he criticized his earlier work as needlessly forcing Shakespeare into an abstract metaphysical framework. Instead, Nuttall attempted to undo this tradition through a 'pataphysical approach, where everyday objects such as eggs, tennis rackets, and other mundane phenomena acquire an absurd metalepsis in their satiric relation to Shakespeare's tragedies. In a more philosophical tradition, A Common Sky traces the literary repercussions of both the English empiricist tradition and the idea of solipsism. His work is characterised throughout by wide reading (especially in classical sources), common sense, a deep and broad humanity, a robust sense of humour and by occasional—and sometimes eccentric—references to popular culture (In Shakespeare the Thinker, for example, he cites the TV series Wife Swap.) His brother Jeff Nuttall was a poet and an important figure in 1960s counterculture. To him he dedicated his book The Alternative Trinity, a study of the Gnostic tradition in English literature through Marlowe and Milton to William Blake, a poet to whom both brothers had been attracted in their youth, if in rather different ways.


  1. ^ Levens, R.G.C., ed. (1964). Merton College Register 1900-1964. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. p. 470. 

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