n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - A Companion to the Ancient Novel. Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World, E.P. Cueva and S. Byrne (Eds.) : reviews

Volume 58, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1141
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The purpose of this new collection of recent work on the ancient novel, is, in the words of its editors, to assemble 'different perspectives and interpretations on a wide variety of topics in a manageable way to serve as a suitable introduction for readers new to the genre' (p. 1). More experienced readers of the ancient novels are not neglected either, however, since the book also aims to articulate 'the perplexities [of ancient narrative fiction] that have challenged scholars since ... the nineteenth century' (ibid.). The collection proceeds to achieve these two aims incrementally, beginning with some new surveys of the main authors of the Greek and Roman novel, the fragments, Menippean satire, and early Christian narratives in Part 1 (pp. 11-198), moving on to touch on the issues of genre (Part 2, pp. 199-272) and intertextuality (Part 3, pp. 273-424), and concluding with some special themes and topics (Part 4, pp. 425-597). This is not to say that Parts 1-2 avoid new topics entirely, however, since Graham Anderson's discussion of 'The management of dialogue in ancient fiction', pp. 217-30, for example, discusses a new aspect of ancient narrative fiction. Parts 3-4 entirely avoid the old and familiar - indeed, given the rate of publication in this field, it would be unreasonable to expect otherwise. The reader is warned that there is much recycling of what is already well known in this volume, especially the inevitable plot summaries, but it would be difficult for such a weighty tome as this not to have any new things to say about the ancient novel and related genres, and in this respect it does not disappoint. Perhaps the greatest virtue of the collection is that it brings together the standard introductory information on the ancient novel, for which Gareth Schmeling's (Leiden 1996, reissued in 2003) has come to be relied on, and the more sophisticated theoretical approach of Tim Whitmarsh's (Cambridge 2008). In keeping with this blending of old and new, Cueva and Byrne have assembled a good mix of established scholars and fresh voices in the field, with the former rather outweighing the latter, although some established names are absent.

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