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An Excellent Intro to the Ancient Novel31 Mar 2006
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I was looking for a concise introduction into the genre of ancient novels and had been disappointed by other books on this topic. Then I picked up Niklas Holzberg's The Ancient Novel: An Introduction and found exactly the kind of introduction for which I was looking.
Holzberg introduces the genre clearly in just over 100-pages. He begins by defining the genre and discussing related literary works. Then, he moves through the different "periods" of ancient novel writing by examining the principal novels from each. For being such a short book, Holzberg gives you enough information about each novel to give you a feel for the work and how it fits into the history and development of the genre.
The book is a translation from German. But, unlike some translations of academic books, this one reads very well.
There is also an excellent bibliography of primary and secondary sources, including references to works about the genre as a whole as well as about each of the leading novels themselves.
My only quibble with the book is its abrupt ending. There is no conclusion per se as he ends the book with a discussion of a later ancient novel. After fitting so much clear and helpful analysis into such a small package, I was hoping for an excellent conclusion that brought it all together.