From Gibbon to Auden: Essays on the Classical Tradition

From Gibbon to Auden: Essays on the Classical Tradition

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by G. W. Bowersock
     
 

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For several decades G. W. Bowersock has been one of our leading historians of the classical world. This volume collects seventeen of his essays, each illustrating how the classical past has captured the imagination of some of the greatest figures in modern historiography and literature. The essays here range across three centuries, the eighteenth to the twentieth,

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Overview

For several decades G. W. Bowersock has been one of our leading historians of the classical world. This volume collects seventeen of his essays, each illustrating how the classical past has captured the imagination of some of the greatest figures in modern historiography and literature. The essays here range across three centuries, the eighteenth to the twentieth, and are divided chronologically.

The great Enlightenment historian Edward Gibbon is in large part the unifying force of this collection as he appears prominently in the first four essays, beginning with Bowersock's engaging introduction to the methods and genius behind The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Gibbon's profound influence is revealed in subsequent essays on Jacob Burckhardt, the nineteenth-century scholar famous for his history of the Italian Renaissance but whose work on late antiquity is only now being fully appreciated; the modern Greek poet Constantine Cavafy, whose annotations on Gibbon's Decline and Fall tell us much about his own historical poems; and finally W. H. Auden, whose poem and little known essay "The Fall of Rome" were, in quirky ways, tributes to Gibbon. The collection reprints Auden's poem and essay in full.

The result is a rich survey of the early modern and modern uses of the classical past by one of its most important contemporary commentators.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Remarkably wide-ranging, penetrating, witty, and polished." —Paul Cartledge, Classical World

"Not all modern classicists are as civilized as Glen Bowersock, whose expertise and understanding go far beyond whatever a quarter century at the Princeton Institute may have bestowed on him. These reprinted essays, covering some twenty years, are a serious contribution to the history of classical scholarship, looking at its role in the work of poets and the attitudes of the better scholars. The effect of reading these essays as a group might inspire some classicists to consider just how important what we do might be for the survival of civilized society and to lift their eyes from the straightness of whatever furrow they are plowing." —John Boardman, Common Knowledge

"The book has been elegantly, almost impeccably produced.... Satis superque. Bowersock has brought forth another splendid volume, which enlightens and informs in many different ways. We may all be grateful to him." —Classical Journal

"This handsome collection opens with three pieces focusing on the historian Edward Gibbon, the 18th-century chronicler of Rome's decline and fall, while three later ones appraise Cavafy's "historical" poetry, which repeatedly depicts the tension between the pagan and the Christian, the sensual and the ascetic. But there are also appealing short accounts of the unearthing of buried Pompeii and Herculaneum, of Berlioz's use of Virgil in his opera Les Troyens, and of Edward Lear's short visit to the legendary Petra, the 'rose-red city, half as old as time'." —Michael Dirda, Barnes & Noble Review

"G. W. Bowersock's many previous books and articles, written over a span of nearly 50 years, have established him as a master of ancient history, from classical Athens to early Islam. This new collection brings together, for the first time in English, his studies of modern culture in its ever-renewed dialogue with the ancient world. It is also the most personal of his books, the record of a great explorer's intellectual voyage." —Christopher Jones, Harvard University

"In this scintillating overview of decades of critical scholarship composed by one of the most wide-ranging of historians of Graeco-Roman antiquity, the reader will find much more than an ordinary scholarly collection. Bowersock's critical and appreciative eye, whether reading Gibbon's monumental prose or the fine and exotic creations of Cavafy or Auden, sees the connections and discloses new and fascinating insights. Reflecting on moments as diverse as the historical visions of Burckhardt or a classic study of hand gestures in nineteenth-century Naples, he opens up a veritable wonderland of ideas that runs like a living dialogue between their world and ours." —Brent Shaw, Princeton University

"Characteristically erudite and incisive." —Peter Green, The New Republic

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199856947
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
10/28/2011
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.70(d)

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