ISBN 10: 0691144575 / ISBN 13: 9780691144573
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Examining the figure of Aesop and the traditions surrounding him, Aesopic Conversations offers a portrait of what Greek popular culture might have looked like in the ancient world. What has survived from the literary record of antiquity is almost entirely the product of an elite of birth, wealth, and education, limiting our access to a fuller range of voices from the ancient past. This book, however, explores the anonymous Life of Aesop and offers a different set of perspectives. Leslie Kurke argues that the traditions surrounding this strange text, when read with and against the works of Greek high culture, allow us to reconstruct an ongoing conversation of "great" and "little" traditions spanning centuries.

Evidence going back to the fifth century BCE suggests that Aesop participated in the practices of nonphilosophical wisdom (sophia) while challenging it from below, and Kurke traces Aesop's double relation to this wisdom tradition. She also looks at the hidden influence of Aesop in early Greek mimetic or narrative prose writings, focusing particularly on the Socratic dialogues of Plato and the Histories of Herodotus. Challenging conventional accounts of the invention of Greek prose and recognizing the problematic sociopolitics of humble prose fable, Kurke provides a new approach to the beginnings of prose narrative and what would ultimately become the novel.

Delving into Aesop, his adventures, and his crafting of fables, Aesopic Conversations shows how this low, noncanonical figure was--unexpectedly--central to the construction of ancient Greek literature.


"Leslie Kurke is one of the sharpest and most original scholars of ancient Greek literary culture writing today. Informed, intellectually precise, and always engaged, her work has long been a pleasure and an education. Here she brings all of her considerable theoretical experience to the life and work of that least refined of ancient authors: Aesop. A hick, a foreigner, a slave, Aesop speaks with no kind of authority and yet by all accounts he is wise. Kurke takes this central conundrum as the starting point for a wide-ranging exploration of what it means in ancient Greek culture to be highbrow or lowbrow, gold or dross. Along the way there are some surprising diversions, numerous clever insights, and quite a lot of sophisticated and not so sophisticated fun."--James Davidson, University of Warwick

Aesopic Conversations is a masterpiece. Breathtakingly original, the book illuminates the dynamics of the Aesopic tradition and the intellectual history of Greece. It succeeds in showing that the seemingly marginal figure of Aesop, a fable-telling alleged criminal and itinerant slave, had a central role in the invention of a fundamental medium for all of Western history--serious nonfictional prose."--Richard P. Martin, Stanford University

"This brilliant and exciting book revises major parts of ancient Greek cultural and literary history by revealing the important influence of the Aesopic tradition. Kurke tackles big issues and treats topics with thoroughness and nuance."--William Hansen, professor emeritus, Indiana University

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Kurke, Leslie
Verlag: Princeton University Press (2010)
ISBN 10: 0691144575 ISBN 13: 9780691144573
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Buchbeschreibung Princeton University Press, 2010. Hardcover. Buchzustand: New. book. Buchnummer des Verkäufers 691144575

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