Verse with Prose from Petronius to Dante: The Art and Scope of the Mixed Form (Carl Newell Jackson Lectures)

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9780674934757: Verse with Prose from Petronius to Dante: The Art and Scope of the Mixed Form (Carl Newell Jackson Lectures)

Peter Dronke illuminates a unique literary tradition: the narrative that mixes prose with verse. Highlighting a wide range of texts, he defines and explores the creative ways in which mixed forms were used in Europe from antiquity through the thirteenth century. Verse with Prose distinguishes for the first time some of the most significant uses of mixed forms. Dronke looks at the way prose and verse elements function in satirical works, beginning in the third century B.C. with Menippus. He examines allegorical techniques in the mixed form, giving especially rewarding attention to Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy. His lucid analysis encompasses a feast of medieval sagas and romances, ranging from Iceland to Italy, including vernacular works by Marguerite Porete in France and Mechthild in Germany. A number of the medieval Latin texts presented have remained virtually unknown, but emerge here as narratives with unusual and at times brilliant literary qualities. To enable not only specialists but all who love literature to respond to the works discussed, they are quoted in fresh translations, as well as in the originals.

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About the Author:

Dronke is Professor of Medieval Latin Literature in the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of the British Academy.

Review:

The present reviewer has read this book, which is small in size but very rich in context, with immense pleasure. Professor Dronke offers us a precious guide to the reading of texts belonging to an interesting, yet to a certain extent neglected, genre. [Verse with Prose] presents a good deal of new insights, both on the basis of earlier work by the author himself and in discussion with the work of other scholars. The book thus appeals to specialists in the field, who will certainly not be disappointed. Its merit is moreover enhanced by the fact that it has not only been written to satisfy specialists but also to engage the attention of general readers with a historical or literary interest. Thus, it does not primarily focus on numerous philological questions of detail, but rather on how these texts, provided we read them in the proper way, can be fascinating to us as living literature, containing a treasure of human experiences. The author achieves that not only thanks to his judicious choice of texts, but also by writing so lucidly about difficult concepts of literary theory and about sometimes quite complicated literary techniques. He thus manages to whet our appetite for these and other texts belonging to the same literary genre.
--M. van der Poel (International Journal of the Classical Tradition)

Readers of Professor Dronke's previous work will expect elegance, close analysis of texts, and width of learning in this new book, and they will not be disappointed...It treats with selective analysis a number of prosimetric works from the Greco-Roman ancient world to the height of medieval culture in Dante's Vita Nuova. It is a welcome venture in this insufficiently charted territory...A brief review can give little idea of the riches of learning to be found in this short text. Reading it exposes even more the necessity of a full history of prosimetric writing from late antiquity to the high medieval period: can Professor Dronke be called on to write that, too?
--S. J. Harrison (Notes and Queries [UK)

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