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Classical Literature: A Concise History (Blackwell Introductions to the Classical World) [Paperback]

Richard Rutherford
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 24.99
Price: 21.24 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

29 Jun 2004 Blackwell Introductions to the Classical World (Book 10)
This accessible one–volume survey of the literature of Greece and Rome covers the period between Homer around 700 BC and Augustine around AD 410. Highlights what is important historically and of continuing interest and value in classical literature. An introduction by the editor presents essential information in a concise, accessible way. Each chapter focuses on a particular genre or area of literature. This structure allows readers to see continuities between different periods and to move easily between the Greek and Roman worlds. Includes extensive quotations in English. A timeline and an index of authors help to make the material as accessible as possible.

Frequently Bought Together

Classical Literature: A Concise History (Blackwell Introductions to the Classical World) + A History of the Hellenistic World: 323-30 BC (Blackwell History of the Ancient World) + The Greek World 479-323 BC (The Routledge History of the Ancient World)
Price For All Three: 70.32

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Product details

  • Paperback: 370 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (29 Jun 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0631231331
  • ISBN-13: 978-0631231332
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15.3 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 445,628 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

"The book is a tour de force ... Rutherford speaks directly to his readers, telling them what they need to know to set a work into its historical and social context ... Even scholars who are completely familiar with all the texts Rutherford discusses will profit from consulting this book." Times Literary Supplement ′Rutherford′s book provides an accessible, affordable, and concise introduction to its topic.′ Bryn Mawr Classical Review "As well as Rutherford′s broader constituency, this book should make particularly invaluable reading for undergraduates, sixth–formers who are looking to pursue Classics at university (and it should be a must for school libraries)." Greece and Rome

Review

"The book is a tour de force ... Rutherford speaks directly to his readers, telling them what they need to know to set a work into its historical and social context ... Even scholars who are completely familiar with all the texts Rutherford discusses will profit from consulting this book." Times Literary Supplement ′Rutherford′s book provides an accessible, affordable, and concise introduction to its topic.′ Bryn Mawr Classical Review "As well as Rutherford′s broader constituency, this book should make particularly invaluable reading for undergraduates, sixth–formers who are looking to pursue Classics at university (and it should be a must for school libraries)." Greece and Rome

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The time span of this book extends from the late eighth century BC to the early fifth century AD, a period of some 1,100 years. Read the first page
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By vmht
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book gives an excellent overview of all the major writers, and includes intriguing insights into some lesser writers too. The literature is set in a historical framework, without being smothered by issues arising from context. The idea of literary genre, and the evolution of different genres, is beautifully treated, and enlightening to a modern reader less familiar with ancient literary practice: for example, the chapter on rhetoric. Organisation in thematic chapters makes eminently good sense. Balancing the broad sweep covered by the book, examples from specific texts are treated with enjoyable zest and subtlety. The occasional dry wit of the writing is most appealing. Having read the book myself, I bought copies as gifts for teenage sons studying classics. They loved it!
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seriously excellent 20 April 2012
By David Auerbach - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is one of the best overviews of classical literature, as well as a handy quick reference. "Classical literature" is the convention for Greek and Latin literature starting from Homer in ~700BC to sometime in the late Roman empire. (Rutherford picks 410 AD and Augustine's City of God as his stopping point, which is reasonable since people can't even agree on when the Roman Empire ended these days.) Rutherford contextualizes a huge amount of poetry and prose into a reasonably comprehensible framework in 300 pages. His success is pretty amazing.

Rutherford's division into genres is the smartest move. Rutherford traces each genre chronologically helps fix the general sequence of works in your mind without overwhelming you with too many works at once. So the chapters on Epic, Drama, Rhetoric, and Philosophy each give mostly self-contained chronological overviews of key works, while referencing linkages to other genres. Rutherford admits his divisions are fluid and sometimes arbitrary: the chapter on "History, Biography, and Fiction" is basically three mini-chapters that happen to fall loosely in line chronologically. But this doesn't pose a problem.

Within each genre, Rutherford hits the big names but also many smaller ones as well (some only extant in fragments): his chapter on epic goes over the Epic Cycle, Appollonius, Lucan, Statius, and even Silius, in addition to Homer and Virgil. So rather than just calling out the Great Books, he gives an idea of how trends in literature produced high points and lesser ones, and the cycles of influence and reception that occurred. You can gripe about minor omissions like Nonnus or Sextus Empiricus, but overall he is quite comprehensive.

Rutherford's focus is on literature and rhetoric rather than the history of ideas, and the chapters on philosophy and religion are less satisfying than the rest of the book because there just isn't room to outline the systems of Plato and Aristotle in sufficient detail. Rutherford is content to describe their historical and literary significance before going on to Lucretius and Virgil's Georgics.

Nonetheless, on literature the book is extremely satisfying and the annotated bibliography is rock-solid, giving a handful of works on each genre. He doesn't just go for the latest trends, but calls out important earlier works. He recommends Burckhardt, Dodds, Curtius, and Auerbach, and I'm with him that they're more inspiring than all but a handful of academics today, even if they're sometimes out of date.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What you need to bother with re: classical literature 24 Mar 2009
By Dogger Banks - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I had been into classical literature for a while but was at a loss as to which works I needed to worry about, and which were perhaps of lesser importance. (I never studied literature or classics at university.)
This book is a fantastic overview of the subject, divided by genre (e.g. epic, drama, rhetoric, history, etc) and chronologically within that. It is not a dictionary, but is a readable discourse on the subject, not at all stuffy. It also has an excellent suggested further reading list at the back. The time period covered is roughtly 700 B.C. to 400 A.D.
I think helps to have read at least a sample of the works that Dr. Rutherford talks about, but I certainly haven't read them all, and am really enjoying the book. Excellent reading for the armchair classicist!
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