Forum / title alert

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    Aug 02, 01:38pm

    OUP has freshly re-issued in pbk. The Classical Tradition: Greek and Roman Influences on Western Literature by Gilbert Highet.

    First published in 1949, the scholarship demonstrated in the book's 800 pages remains remarkably . . . contemporary and undated. The classical lineage that Highet traces threads mainly from Italy to France to England, for the good reasons he cites in his text. After providing an introductory overview, he organizes his presentation in terms of period and place as the set-up for investigating the uses/abuses of classical sources (many of which were eclipsed for centuries or poorly transmitted through defective MS traditions) by writers and poets and dramatists since c. AD 600.

    Highet brings more depth to the narrative by making other references to culture and history along and along, and thus cumulatively the book works in part as a substantive history of ideas.

    (Might bear mention that Ch. 17, devoted to Satire, is the separate subject of Highet's Anatomy of Satire, itself an intrinsically valuable literary history available in pbk. from Princeton Univ. Pr.)

    Highet's work covers Western literary history in these regards up through the High Modernism of Eliot and Joyce and so is mercifully exempt from any limitations or blurry revisionist misreadings that might have arisen in the subsequent era of post-modern literary study, any or all of which continue to speak for themselves as well and as poorly as they do.

    I'm not reading the whole thing straight through but am still picking out chapters relevant to my interests. Nonetheless, I recommend the title as a valuable, well informed, and judicious contribution to literary history studies. (The Notes section alone is almost 150 pages in length [and we're speaking 8 pt. fonts].) Highet leaves most of his French citations untranslated, which some might find objectionable.

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    David Ackley
    Aug 05, 02:02pm

    Thanks, Edward, sounds like it's worth a go.

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