Description - Words and the Poet by R. O. A. M. Lyne
Readers familiar with Dr Lyne's last book on Virgil will know what to expect. There is the same clarity of expression and layout, the same care to make his use of special terminology unambiguous, the same passionate belief, to use his own words, that "nothing in Vergil is without purpose of explanation". Dr Lyne undoubtedly makes the reader think and sharpens his perception of Virgil; he imparts much interesting, factual information in a clear, orderly style and his passion to know what can be found in Virgil's text is genuine and attractive.' Greece & Rome To a surprising extent Vergil avoids artifices of poetic diction like archaism and grecism, preferring ordinary language: words that were the common stock of the Latin tongue or even (and this remarkably often) words that conventional poets generally avoided at all costs as too ordinary (prosaisms, colloquialisms). In this he shares the taste of his contemporary Horace. The present book identifies and categorizes such diction in vergil. But more importantly it shows how such comparatively unpromising material is converted by the poet's methods of 'combination' (iunctura) into poetry.
Parallels are drawn with Horace's procedures, and Vergil's boldness stressed. Horace combines words in such a way as to 'make them new'; Vergil's combinations veritably extort unexpected and novel sense. Horace can put prosaic words to work in spite of their unpromising familiarity; Vergil more vigorously exploits them. The Vergilian techniques of extortion and exploitation are richly illustrated in this book. Not all Vergil's characteristic methods merit such violent descriptions. His use of the traditional simile ('narrative through imagery') is characterized by discretion and guile - but at key points links up with those more forceful methods. Guileful too is the way in which he may persuade some neutral word to acquire a specal sense over a stretch of text - or the way he may incite us to pursue a sequence of related effects. Vergilian narrative through imagery, and his techniques of incitement and acquisition, are also fully explained in this richly original and informative book.
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(217mm x 139mm x 15mm)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Book Reviews - Words and the Poet by R. O. A. M. Lyne