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Reviews173 Cave tries to capture the anti-rational, anti-mimetic character of anagnorisis in his own performance. The attempt's successes cannot be separated from its annoying qualities, which include baiting the reader. Thatbaitingoccurs because the rationale for Cave's imitative form emerges only belatedly. The reader must wait until the closing pages to learn that, in Cave's view, "anagnorisis is the scapegoat, the black sheep, the cuckoo in the nest, the mixed metaphor, the moment that makes rational readers blush or sneer or squirm" (p. 495). This statement explains why Cave places a mixed metaphor in the book's introduction , nearly five hundred pages earlier: "the black sheep only really comes home to roost in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries" (p. 7). It also throws light on Cave's decision to reuse Auerbach's chapter tide in an act that he refers to as plagiarism (p. 11). On the one hand, Cave usefully explores the alignments described in the closing pages when he describes the history and the implications of recognition in both literature and poetics. On the other hand, his selfconscious strategies for fielding his argument are self-serving to the extent that they present disagreement as sneering. Even so, the book deserves serious consideration by anyone interested in the history of poetics, in anti-mimetic theories of literature, and in the mutually illuminating relations between poetics and literature. Southern Methodist UniversityJohn Paul Riquelme Ancient Literacy, by William V. Harris; ? & 383 pp. Cambridge : Harvard University Press, 1989, $35.00. In this book Harris reexamines the old evidence for literacy levels in ancient Greece and Rome in the light of the latest findings from epigraphy and papyrology . His results serve as a necessary corrective to the optimism about the extent ofliteracy in antiquity found in the standard works like Marrou's Histoire de l'éducation dans l'antiquité. Harris's starting point is UNESCO's 1958 definition ofan illiterate as someone "who cannot with understanding both read and write a short simple statement on his everyday life," but he also analyzes where Greece and Rome stood in relation to mass, scribal, and craftsman's literacy. With commendable courage he proposes broad limits within which the literacy of the different states and eras fell. He is particularly attentive to the importance of social class and the position of women, thus eliminating a distortion which has long permitted an unrealistically idealized view ofancient literacy. He convincingly shows that the 174Philosophy and Literature ancient world lacked some of the major preconditions for widespread literacy, especially urbanization, subsidized schools, technology for the inexpensive copying of texts, a state economy complex enough to require at least a semi-literate population, and an official acceptance of the belief (presented in Plato's Laws) that literacy might improve the quality of life of the lower social orders. Harris methodically locates the functions of literacy in the Graeco-Roman world, while emphasizing that orality retained an equally vital place in many legal and political procedures, and even in the dissemination of literature right down into the late Roman Empire; thatthe elite were literate while mostordinary people had no need of writing in their day-to-day lives; and that the ancients' respect for memory militated against the spread of literacy. He convincingly disposes ofthe unqualified applicability to Greece and Rome of Lévi-Strauss's view that literacy is a tool for "social and cultural control and hegemony" (for one thing, written laws define the citizen's rights), and launches an impressive attack on the argument of Havelock and Goody that writing "favored the increase in scope of critical activity, and hence of rationality, skepticism, and logic." His sobering conclusions are that fifth-century Attica attained a literacy level of only 5 percent to 10 percent, and certain cities of the Hellenistic age like Rhodes formed the high point at 20 percent to 30 percent (the level reached by England in the period from 1580 to 1700), while literacy in the Roman Empire never achieved more than 15 percent. My criticisms are few. I am puzzled at precisely how Harris arrives at his 5 percent to 10 percent range for Classical Athenian literacy in "the population of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 173-175
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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