Classical Mythology in 20th Century Thought and Literature

Classical Mythology in 20th Century Thought and Literature

Classical Mythology in 20th Century Thought and Literature

Classical Mythology in 20th Century Thought and Literature

Excerpt

Dedicated to Wolodymyr Taras Zyla in recognition of his effort in creating and promoting the Comparative Literature Symposia at Texas Tech University, the Eleventh Annual Comparative Literature Symposium, 25–27 January 1978, focused upon the topic “Classical Mythology in Twentieth-Century Thought and Literature.” This topic differed slightly from those of the previous symposia, for, while they treated modern literature (late nineteenth- or twentiethcentury literature), this symposium looked backward to the most ancient sources of literature-mythology. At the same time, however, all of the speakers, even those who lectured specifically upon literary works of the archaic period, saw mythology in terms of modern critical theory or modern literature. This symposium, then, was intended to continue the comparative tradition characteristic of previous symposia at Texas Tech University.

This volume, a record of the proceedings of the symposium, is divided into three parts: Dedication, Symposium Lectures, and Luncheon Address. Symposium lectures, appearing in alphabetical order, and the luncheon address are a diverse group of reactions to classical myth by modern scholars. Encompassing views concerning both critical theory and the impact of classical myth upon subsequent literature (both oral and written), all of the works focus upon classical mythology and its significance.

First in this volume, as it was first in the symposium, is the dedicatory address by Glenn E. Barnett, Vice President for Planning, Texas Tech University. Barnett briefly summarizes the history of the symposia project and points out that the project is “a remarkable success story.” Before his final dedication, he goes on to say that this success is due to the efforts of “one person in particular,… Professor Wolodymyr T. Zyla.”

The first of the lectures is “Some Modern Greek Responses to ‘The Glory That Was Greece,’” by Peter A. Bien, Dartmouth College. Bien recounts the vicissitudes of the modern Greek's reaction to the legacy of his ancient traditions. Modern Greek literature, Bien observes, manifests three distinct responses to its classical past: inversion, yearning, and reaffirmation. Finally, he refers to the myth of Dionysus' dismemberment and disintegration to demonstrate the revitalizing effect of the ancient Greek experience on that of the . . .

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