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Staged Narrative: Poetics and the Messenger in Greek Tragedy

Staged Narrative: Poetics and the Messenger in Greek Tragedy
Author: James Barrett
ISBN 13: 9780520231801
ISBN 10: 520231805
Edition: N/A
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: 2002-08-05
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 305
List Price: $63.00

"I have greatly enjoyed reading this study not only because of its eminently readable style but above all because of its well presented and important argument. Making excellent use of existing scholarship on the tragic messenger, James Barrett manages to increase considerably our understanding of the place and function of this well-known, but often underrated figure. Thus, the relation between tragic and epic narrative, which so far had been described largely in terms of the shared use of unaugmented verb forms, is explored on a much larger and significant scale. Barrett also works out well the tensions between the messenger's human focalization and epic ambitions. The different roles of the messenger are effectively brought into relation with the thematic interests of different plays. This is a study which has much to bring to both student and specialist."—Irene J.F. de Jong, author of A Narratological Commentary on the Odyssey

"An agile and resourceful study of tragic messenger figures and their speeches. James Barrett explores this fascinating subject with the help of narrative theory and a sophisticated approach to genre and rhetoric. His attentive readings of a range of plays—from Persians to Rhesos—convincingly back up his claim that messengers raise fundamental questions about knowledge and authority. This is a learned book, written with engaging zest and a fine feeling for the complex workings of dramatic narrative."—Pat Easterling, editor of The Cambridge Companion to Greek Tragedy

"The messenger speech (angelía) is among the most familiar conventions of the Greek stage, occurring in 26 of the 32 extant tragedies. James Barrett interrogates the figure of the messenger and questions the transparency of the messenger's report. Eschewing approaches that focus more narrowly on the dramatic function or narratological workings of messenger speeches, Barrett focuses on their epistemic status—and with powerful results. He locates the literary origins of the messenger in the epic narrator of the Iliad and Odyssey and identifies an inner tension within the messenger's claims to privileged status. [His] examination of the messenger works through a set of skillful readings of key texts."—Thomas Falkner, author of The Poetics of Old Age in Greek Epic, Lyric, and Tragedy