Lyric Texts and Lyric Consciousness: The Birth of a Genre from Archaic Greece to Augustan Rome

Lyric Texts and Lyric Consciousness: The Birth of a Genre from Archaic Greece to Augustan Rome

Lyric Texts and Lyric Consciousness: The Birth of a Genre from Archaic Greece to Augustan Rome

Lyric Texts and Lyric Consciousness: The Birth of a Genre from Archaic Greece to Augustan Rome

Synopsis

Lyric Texts and Lyric Consciousness presents a model for studying the history of lyric as a genre. Prof Miller draws a distinction between the work of the Greek lyrists and the more condensed, personal poetry that we associate with lyric. He then confronts the theoretical issues and presents a sophisticated, Bakhtinian reading of the development of the lyric form from its origins in archaic Greece to the more individualist style of Augustan Rome. This book will appeal to classicists and, since English translations of passages from the ancient authors are provided, to those who specialise in comparative literature.

Excerpt

Between the generality of the meaning of words…and… the uniqueness of the acoustic event which occurs when an utterance is proffered, there takes place a process that permits the linkage of the two, which we call enunciation. This process does not suppose the existence of two physical bodies…but the presence of two (or more) social entities…. the time and the space in which enunciation occurs also aren't purely physical categories, but a historical time and social space.

(Todorov 1984:39-40)

The poet's audience, the readers of a novel, those in the concert hall-these are collective organizations of a special type, sociologically distinctive and exceptionally important. Without these distinctive forms of social intercourse there are no poems, no odes, no novels, no symphonies. Definite forms of social intercourse are constituent to the meaning of the works of art themselves.

(Bakhtin/Medvedev 1985:11)

The purpose of this work is to present a model for studying the history of lyric as a genre. My specific claim about the nature of lyric poetry is that what is now generally considered lyric-a short poem of personal revelation, confession or complaint, which projects the image of an individual and highly self-reflexive subjective consciousness (see among others Schelling 1913:1-3; Lukács 1973:63-64; Frye 1971:249-50; Culler 1975:164-70)-is only possible in a culture of writing. Indeed it is the lyric collection which spawns the lyric consciousness as we know it. For only the collection, with its inherent potential for building up complex relational structures of reading and rereading, possesses the necessary flexibility in the

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