Book

Speaking With the Dead

Jurgen Pieters

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2005 | ISBN: 9780748615889
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652020 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748615889.001.0001
Speaking With the Dead

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This book deals with the special power of literary texts to put us in contact with the past. A large number of authors, coming from different ages, have described this power in terms of ‘the conversation with the dead’: when these texts are read, we somehow find ourselves conducting a special kind of dialogue with dead authors. The book covers a number of texts and authors that make use of this metaphor: Petrarch, Machiavelli, Sidney, Flaubert, Michelet, Barthes. In connecting these texts and authors in novel ways, it tackles the all-important question of why we remain fascinated with literature in general and with the specific texts that to us are still its backbone. Situated in the aftermath of New Historicism, the book challenges the idea that literary history as a reading practice stems from a desire to ‘speak with the dead’, and offers a broad survey of classical literature, Renaissance literature, and modern theory and history. The author issues a plea for the importance of reading literary texts and the power of literature, and discusses key figures from the Western canon, such as Homer, Virgil, Dante, and Machiavelli. The book combines theoretical discussions of the relationship between literature and history with close reading of works by major literary authors and historians.

Keywords: Petrarch; Machiavelli; Sidney; Flaubert; Michelet; Barthes; New Historicism; Homer; Virgil; Dante

Book.  176 pages.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Speaking With the Dead

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Epilogue in Speaking With the Dead

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