The Medieval Greek Romance

The Medieval Greek Romance

The Medieval Greek Romance

The Medieval Greek Romance

Synopsis

First published by Cambridge University Press in 1989, The Medieval Greek Romance provides basic information for the non-specialist about Greek fiction during the period 1071-1453, as well as proposing new solutions to problems that have vexed generations of scholars.Roderick Beaton applies sophisticated methods of literary analysis to the material, and throughout he considers relations and interconnections with similar literature in western Europe. As most of the texts discussed are not available in English translation, the argument is illustrated by lucid plot summaries and extensive quotation (accompanied by literal English renderings).For this edition, The Medieval Greek Romance has been revised throughout and expanded with the addition of an 'Afterword' which assesses and responds to recent work on the subject.

Excerpt

The Greek romances of the Middle Ages are tales of love, death and adventure. As such they may be seen as the successors to the first European prose fiction developed in Greek between the first and fourth centuries AD, and, more distantly, among the ancestors of the modern European novel. This study aims to explore this little-known territory of European literary history, and reveal the richness, the coherence and complexity, of a group of stories which ring the changes on a universal set of themes, but do so in a way specific to their own time and place. In the course of exploration we will discover that the adventures of the medieval Greek romance are as much the adventures of language and rhetoric as they are the adventures of the somewhat typecast heroes and heroines. In different ways all these works are suspended between nostalgic admiration for the creativity of an earlier age and a craving for permanence and fulfilment, not so much in the human happiness of the lovers (which for an orthodox Christian of the Middle Ages could never be permanent anyway) as in the approximation of the rhetorical logos, or discourse of the text, to the status of the divine logos.

There has been no systematic study of the Greek romances of the Middle Ages as a literary genre in any language, although the texts have been exhaustively quarried in the last hundred years by scholars in search of different kinds of historical, linguistic and cultural information. As a result, many of the questions addressed in this book may seem somewhat otiose to the Western medievalist used to relatively secure chronological and linguistic data, to consensus on editorial practice, and above all to the existence of modern scholarly editions. On the other hand there may be those working in the field of medieval Greek studies who feel that a study such as this is even premature, and should not be undertaken until better texts and more secure background data are available. In answer to the latter, I believe that it will be difficult to progress much further in the vexed questions surrounding editorial method for many of these texts until we can agree on the nature of the texts we are dealing with. One of the main aims of this book is therefore to propose a basis for such agreement. If the details of the argument at times . . .

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