The Fanatical Classics Page Bookstore
Visit the Classics Page Bookstore each week for my
latest recommendations. Please feel free to
e-mail me with comments or recommendations of your own. Also, for some recommendations
unrelated to Classics, see my Personal Recommendations.
Recommendations for the Week beginning 13 October 1998
Controlling Laughter: Political Humor in the Late Republic
, by Anthony Corbeill
Hardcover (November 1996)
Princeton Univ Pr
This is an excellent analysis of humorous invective in the late Republic,
which basically means Cicero's invective in the later Republic, although there is a
useful chapter on the humor of Pompey and Caesar. Brilliant for what it is, this book
is (I feel) mistitled. "Political humor" surely cannot be synonymous with invective,
can it? Corbeill tips his hat to this objection in the introduction, but beyond
his assertion that indeed, you can eliminate most other types of humor from the discussion,
there is no real exploration of this question. If he had titled the book something like
Humorous Invective in the Late Republic I would have been much happier. But now
I'm just nit-picking. I highly recommend this volume --- insightful and highly readable.
Past Weeks' Recommendations
A Cultural History of Humour : From Antiquity to the Present
Day, Jan Bremmer (Editor), Herman Roodenburg (Editor)
Hardcover (June 1997)
This collection of essays grew out of an academic conference, and
the inclusions make for an oustanding book. Of particular interest to me were
the first two chapters on humor in Greece and in Rome, but anyone with an
interest in this area will also enjoy later chapters on humor in the Middle
Ages, anthropological perspectives on humor, the humor of a Flemish painter (!),
and many more. Highly recommended. Click on the book to order a copy.
Alexander to Constantine : A Critical Anthology, by Mark Kiley (Editor)
Paperback - 320 pages (August 1997)
This is a very useful book for anyone interested in religious studies, be you
a Classicist interested in Greek and Roman religion or simply a Christian who
would like to get a historical picture of how people have prayed, and in
particular how they prayed during the time period which birthed your faith.
Click on the book to order a copy.
Images of the World in Ciceronian Oratory, by Ann Vasaly
Paperback Reprint edition (February 1996) Univ California Press
This book by Ann Vasaly is a very important work for the study
of Ciceronian rhetoric. For years, the persuasive value of Cicero's speeches
has been approached with the philology of the dry and dusty variety. Vasaly
undertakes to examine questions not usually asked in earlier investigations.
Click on the book to order a copy.
Who Killed Homer? : The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of
Greek Wisdom, by Victor Davis Hanson, John Heath
Hardcover - 288 pages (April 1998)
The Free Press
Victor Davis Hanson and John Heath stake out dangerous ground.
Basically, they claim that the study of the Classical world is dying and that
classicists are to blame. Clearly, if you are a classicist, prepare to
be offended. Also prepare to be offended if you are a feminist, post-structuralist,
post-modernist, multiculturalist, or a devotee of countless other "ists" and "isms"
that the authors attack. That having
been said, Hanson and Heath make a strong claim that the Classical world
is where most of the things we hold dear originate, and that, despite our justified
admiration of other cultures, we really wouldn't want to give up these tenets
which began with the Greeks and Romans, the knowledge of which is withering away from
neglect. Regardless of whether you end up agreeing
with the authors, this is a book which started a firestorm in the States, and is
well worth reading. Click on the book to order a copy.
Review of Who Killed Homer in Bryn Mawr Classical Review by Beye
Review of Who Killed Homer in Bryn Mawr Classical Review by Connolly
Hanson & Heath's Response to these two Reviews
Debate about Who Killed Homer? on NPR
and Poetic Embrace in Ovid and Virgil, by R. Alden Smith
Hardcover (January 1998)
Univ of Michigan Pr
Let me first be very up-front about my biases: Alden Smith is a friend
of mine and a former professor, and I read the manuscript of this book and offered
comments before it went to press. That does not change the fact, however, that with
Poetic Allusion & Poetic Embrace Smith has given us a much-needed corrective
to the idea that intertextuality consists of authors "battling it out" and that
readership is practically anything you want it to be. Through
sensitive readings of selected passages from Ovid and Virgil, and by appropriating
the "Ich und Du" of Martin Buber, Smith shows that readership, both of authors reading
those who came before them and of the general audience, is a much more
complicated process. Click on the book to order a copy.
Vietnam : Combat Trauma and the Undoing of Character, by Jonathan Shay
Paperback (October 1995)
Jonathan Shay is a psychologist by trade and has spent many years counseling
Vietnam veterans. In the course of his counseling, Shay noticed similarities
between the experiences of his patients and those of warriors in Homer. He discussed
this with classicist Gregory Nagy of Harvard, and with Nagy's encouragement he
fleshed out his ideas, resulting in this book.
Praised in the popular media and panned by some academics (including Hanson and
Heath above), this is a fascinating study. In particular, Shay compares the behavior
of "beserkers" from Vietnam with that of Achilles, and attempts to show that story-telling
has a large role to play in the healing process. Pop psychology or valuable
inter-disciplinary insight? You decide... Click on the book to order
The Western Way of War :
Infantry Battle in Classical Greece,
by Victor Davis Hanson
Paperback Reprint edition (November 1990)
Oxford Univ Pr (Trade)
An excellent "worm's-eye" study of the experience in battle of the
classical Greek hoplite. Davis advances the compelling theory that the origins of all Western
warfare can be traced back to classical Greece (cf. also Hanson & Heath Who Killed Homer
above). Based on the methodology of Keegan's The Face of Battle
but exhaustively researched from classical sources, some relatively unknown. Of interest
to general readers as well as those with an interest in military history and the psychology
of men in battle. Recommended to me by Murray Woodford. Click on the book to buy a copy.
Latin Literature : A History,
by Gian Biagio Conte
Hardcover - 827 pages Revised edition (April 1994)
Johns Hopkins Univ Pr
This is an excellent reference work from one of the premier Latinists of our
century. It is exhaustive and yet it makes a good read, too. Especially of interest
for students, and grad students in particular. Click on the book to order a copy.
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