The Novel in Antiquity (Magill's Literary Annual 1984)
Tomas Hägg’s excellent study of the ancient novel stems in a major part from his previous scholarly work, including his Uppsala doctoral dissertation, Narrative Technique in Ancient Greek Romances (1971), which firmly established the author’s reputation in the area of ancient prose fiction. While the earlier book, with its focus on literary form, is of particular interest to classical scholars, this new volume is a fascinating introduction to the ancient texts in their social, historical, and critical contexts and broadly surveys the history of the ancient genre from a perspective delicately balancing the arcane knowledge of the classical specialist with the more general interests of the layman.
The Novel in Antiquity (published in Sweden in 1980 as Den Antika Romanen) provides a superb overview of the social background of the Hellenistic society in which the Greek novel was born together with simple, direct explanation of special features of the ancient world (see, especially, the useful “Note on Terms, Names and Historical Periods”). The Greek novel is discussed in the context of its links with many areas of ancient life, including art and religion. Particularly significant are the illustrations from ancient art, mostly mosaics, with which Hägg supplements his analyses of the novels. Such illustrations of characters from ancient novels, rarely available today in the same volume with the literary works they imitate,...
(The entire section is 2558 words.)
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