In Search of the Classic: Reconsidering the Greco-Roman Tradition, Homer to Valéry and Beyond

In Search of the Classic: Reconsidering the Greco-Roman Tradition, Homer to Valéry and Beyond

by Steven Shankman


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""This is a stimulating book that should provoke rethinking many common assumptions about literary history. It offers both a coherent theoretical framework and many fresh insights into particular works.""-Comparative Literature

The ""classical,"" Steven Shankman argues, should be not confused with a particular historical period of Western antiquity, although it may owe its original articulation to the literary and philosophical explorations of ancient Greek authors. Shankman's book searches for and attempts to formulate the shape of the continuing presence-as embodied in particular literary works mainly from Western antiquity and the neoclassical and modern periods-of what the author calls a ""classical"" understanding of literature.

For Shankman, literature, defined from a classical perspective, is a coherent, compelling, and rationally defensible representation that resists being reduced either to the mere recording of material reality or to the bare exemplification of an abstract philosophical precept. He derives his definition largely from his reading of Greek literature from Homer through Plato, from the history of literary criticism, and from the Greco-Roman tradition in English, American, and French literature. Shankman reveals unsuspected yet convincing connections among authors of such widely disparate times and places. His idea of the ""classic"" that authorizes these connections is presented as normative, thus making possible the evaluation of literary works and, in turn, forthright discussion of what constitutes the ""literary"" as distinct from other kinds of discourse. Shankman's study runs counter to a strong tendency of contemporary criticism that argues precisely against any distinct category of the ""literary."" He offers a series of interpretations that cumulatively advance theoretical discussion by challenging scholars to rethink the critical paradigms of postmodernism.

At the center of the book is a discussion of the quintessentiall

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780271025728
Publisher: Penn State University Press
Publication date: 09/15/1994
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.98(d)

About the Author

Steven Shankman is Professor of English and Classics at the University of Oregon and author of Pope's "Iliad": Homer in the Age of Passion (1983).

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