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Authorship and Cultural Identity in Early Greece and China: Patterns of Literary Circulation by Alexander Beecroft (review)

Authorship and Cultural Identity in Early Greece and China: Patterns of Literary Circulation by... Reviews Alexander Beecroft. Authorship and Cultural Identity in Early Greece and China: Patterns of Literary Circulation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. ix, 328 pp. Hardcover $85.00, isbn 978-0-521-19431-0. This book is a rare foray into comparative literature in its boldest form, an examination of two mutually isolated literatures. Though for most scholars the challenges of approaching simultaneously two cultures so far removed as ancient Greece and China seem insurmountable, the potential rewards are also great. In the field of Homeric epic, in fact, a comparative approach famously bore fruit in the oralformulaic theory of Parry and Lord, who used the compositional methods of living Yugoslavian bards as evidence in the analysis of the Homeric epic. Not coincidentally, Beecroft draws considerably on the insights of this theory ( particularly as presented in more recent scholarship by Gregory Nagy and others), and so by authorship refers not so much to the original composition of a work, of which we often have meager factual evidence, as its later performance, transmission, and circulation. In the practice this means that in the Greek half of the book Beecroft is interested primarily in biographical narratives about authors, while in the Chinese half he is http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png China Review International University of Hawai'I Press

Authorship and Cultural Identity in Early Greece and China: Patterns of Literary Circulation by Alexander Beecroft (review)

China Review International , Volume 19 (1) – Feb 19, 2012

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Publisher
University of Hawai'I Press
Copyright
Copyright © University of Hawai'i Press.
ISSN
1527-9367
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Abstract

Reviews Alexander Beecroft. Authorship and Cultural Identity in Early Greece and China: Patterns of Literary Circulation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010. ix, 328 pp. Hardcover $85.00, isbn 978-0-521-19431-0. This book is a rare foray into comparative literature in its boldest form, an examination of two mutually isolated literatures. Though for most scholars the challenges of approaching simultaneously two cultures so far removed as ancient Greece and China seem insurmountable, the potential rewards are also great. In the field of Homeric epic, in fact, a comparative approach famously bore fruit in the oralformulaic theory of Parry and Lord, who used the compositional methods of living Yugoslavian bards as evidence in the analysis of the Homeric epic. Not coincidentally, Beecroft draws considerably on the insights of this theory ( particularly as presented in more recent scholarship by Gregory Nagy and others), and so by authorship refers not so much to the original composition of a work, of which we often have meager factual evidence, as its later performance, transmission, and circulation. In the practice this means that in the Greek half of the book Beecroft is interested primarily in biographical narratives about authors, while in the Chinese half he is

Journal

China Review InternationalUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Feb 19, 2012

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