The Classical Tradition: Greek and Roman Influences on Western Literature

ISBN : 9780199377695

Gilbert Highet
808 Pages
135 x 204 mm
Pub date
Jun 2015
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Originally published in 1949, Gilbert Highet's seminal The Classical Tradition is a herculean feat of comparative literature and a landmark publication in the history of classical reception. As Highet states in the opening lines of his Preface, this book outlines " With that simple statement, Highet takes his reader on a sweeping exploration of the history of western literature. To summarize what he covers is a near-impossible task. Discussions of Ovid and French literature of the Middle Ages and Chaucer's engagement with Virgil and Cicero lead, swiftly, into arguments of Christian versus " works in the Renaissance, Baroque imitations of Seneca, and the (re)birth of satire. Building momentum through Byron, Tennyson, and the rise of " Highet, at last, arrives at his conclusion: the birth and establishment of modernism. Though his humanist style may appear out-of-date in today's postmodernist world, there is a value to ensuring this influential work reaches a new generation, and Highet's light touch and persuasive, engaging voice guarantee the book's usefulness for a contemporary audience. Indeed, the book is free of the jargon-filled style of literary criticism that plagues much of current scholarship. Accompanied by a new foreword by renown critic Harold Bloom, this reissue will enable new readers to appreciate the enormous legacy of classical literature in the canonical works of medieval, Renaissance, and modern Europe and America.


Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: The Dark Ages: English Literature
Chapter 3: The Middle Ages: French Literature
Chapter 4: Dante and Pagan Antiquity
Chapter 5: Towards the Renaissance: Petrarch, Boccaccio, Chaucer
Chapter 6: The Renaissance: Translation
Chapter 7: The Renaissance: Drama
Chapter 8: The Renaissance: Epic
Chapter 9: The Renaissance: Pastoral and Romance
Chapter 10: Rabelais and Montaigne
Chapter 11: Shakespeare
Chapter 12: The Renaissance and Afterwards: Lyric Poetry
Chapter 13: Transition
Chapter 14: The Battle of the Books
Chapter 15: A Note on Baroque

About the author: 

Gilbert Highet(1906-1978) was Professor of Greek and Latin and Anthon Professor of Latin Language and Literature, Columbia University (1938-43, 1946-71), as well as the author of eight books.; Harold Bloom is Sterling Professor of Humanities, Yale University, and author of numerous volumes of literary criticism.

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