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The Form of Greek Romance

The Form of Greek Romance

Copyright Date: 1991
Pages: 208
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    The Form of Greek Romance
    Book Description:

    In the early Roman Empire a new literary genre began to flourish, mainly in the Greek world: prose fiction, or romance. Broadly defined as a love story that offers adventure and a romantic vision of life, this form of literature emerged long after the other genres and, until recently, seemed hardly worthy of critical attention. Here B. P. Reardon addresses the growing interest in ancient fiction by providing a literary and cultural framework in which to understand Greek romance, and by demonstrating its importance as an artistic and social phenomenon. Beginning with a discussion of Chariton's Chaereas and Callirhoe, Reardon sets out the generic characteristics of the romance. He then moves through a wide range of works, including those of Longus and Heliodorus, and reveals their sophistication in terms of social observation, technique within a convention, and the stance adopted by the authors toward their own creations. Although antiquity left behind little discussion of the genre, Reardon shows how romance can be assessed within its time period by considering the practice of narrative in other Greek literature and the concept of fiction in antiquity.

    Originally published in 1991.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6184-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Bibliographical References and Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-2)
  5. CHAPTER 1 The Genre Romance in Antiquity
    (pp. 3-14)

    Romance is difficult to define, but may be described generally as narrative fiction. It is usually idealizing and sentimental, and the specimens we shall be concerned with are in prose; but none of these attributes is essential to the genre, since the quality of romance is so ubiquitous that it readily dispenses with specific formal characteristics. Perhaps even realistic fiction, which we generally call ʺnovel,ʺ tends towards romance—ʺall fiction has a way of looking like romance and in a sense this is just, since all fiction frees us into an imaginative world.ʺ¹ And that is really at the heart...

  6. CHAPTER 2 The Practice of Greek Romance
    (pp. 15-45)

    It would be Ièse–majesté to begin an analysis of romance in antiquity anywhere other than with itsfons et origo, theOdyssey. TheOdysseyappears to have all the elements of romance, to set out the coordinates of the genre; it subtends, as it were, all the travel-and–adventure stories in subsequent Greek literature, if not in the whole Western tradition. I shall begin, therefore, by setting out the pattern of romance as it appears in this prototype and exemplar of the form.

    For our purposes here, theOdysseymay be seen as an imaginative narrative describing the vicissitudes and...

  7. CHAPTER 3 The Content of Romance: The Idea of Fiction
    (pp. 46-76)

    One way to analyse a literary genre is to follow the example of Aristotle and consider systematically its object, manner and means. Literature, for Aristotle, represents people doing things,mimeitai prattontas. Tragedy, for instance, represents people doing notionally historical things, in a dramatic manner or mode, and by the means or in the medium of verse. Romance represents people doing things invented by the writer, fictitious things; it does so by telling a story, that is in narrative mode; and it does so in prose. Romance, that is, is narrative prose fiction. In this chapter and the next I shall...

    (pp. 77-96)

    It will be interesting to see whether other elements of AristotleʹsPoeticsare useful for the analysis of romance. First, its narrative manner. An obvious candidate is Aristotleʹs theory of plot,mythos. Can it throw any light on the plot of romance narrative?

    Aristotleʹs theory identifies elements of story, which can be variously deployed in this or that character or legend or action, and can be variously used, disposed and combined to produce this or that effect—tragic or happy ending, moral outrage, human feelings, pity and fear; all of which is to say that Aristotle was a structuralist. But...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Problems and Solutions
    (pp. 97-126)

    Chapters 3 and 4 have discussed the theoretical background of narrative prose fiction, the attitudes, thinking and practice already existing in the literary tradition inherited by the first writers of romance. In the creation of a new genre, however, writers face new problems, new tasks. No doubt they do not always think in terms of theoretical problems that need solving, but for the student of the form following in their tracks it may be profitable to analyse their procedure in such terms. That is the purpose of this chapter. The following pages will thus be an extension of the preceding...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Context and Contacts
    (pp. 127-168)

    So far romance has been considered in isolation; but it was not isolated, either in the overall history of Greek literature or in its own time. We should now look at its context, its surrounds and penumbra. In other periods there are works which could quite suitably be comprehended under the simple title ʺromanceʺ; and there are works in the imperial period which we would not call ʺromanceʺ but which share important features with romance. At the very beginning of this study it was pointed out that romance could be understood not only as a particular literary genre but as...

  11. CHAPTER 7 The Pattern of Romance
    (pp. 169-180)

    The main aim of this study has been to analyze the genre of Greek romance, to examine the elements from which it is put together, how they are articulated, how the form works in its various instantiations. But what is it all about in the first place? In this final chapter I shall return briefly to interpretation of the form.

    The religious narratives that figured at the end of the last chapter—Christian and para-Christian romance, hagiography—will recall once more Fryeʹs remark that ʺthere are close connections between the imaginative universe of romance and of Christianity.ʺ¹ In the imperial...

  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 181-190)
  13. Index
    (pp. 191-193)