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276 Reviews This volume is strongly recommended for libraries with European and Mediterranean collections, and for anyone interested in political, security, or economic issues in Eastern and Southern Europe. Van Coufoudakis Indiana University—Purdue University at Fort Wayne Roderick Beaton, TL· Medieval Greek Romance. Cambridge Medieval Series. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1989. Pp. ix + 261. $49.50. The medieval romance is a genre of Greek literature definitely in need of a fresh critical réévaluation. This comprehensive study intended for both the specialized and the nonspecialized reader, and possessing an excellent bibliography, addresses such a need. The problem with the medieval Greek romances is not simply that they went critically unnoticed until the nineteenth century but also that such a delayed acknowledgment contributed to their disconnection from the tradition of the novel of antiquity and consequently to the loss of their rightful place in the history of medieval European fiction. If we were to isolate a background historical argument as a basis for Beaton's endeavor, it would go something like this: The fiction that flourished in the form of the novel in later antiquity with authors such as Chariton, Achilles Tatios, and Heliodorus became submerged under the more pervasive Christian religious culture. The world-view projected by the ancient fiction, where the individual was totally at the mercy of passion and the irrational forces of fate, was hardly compatible with the Christian one. Nevertheless, during the period of the novel's absence, the need for excitement and for stimulation of the imagination found some outlet, at least in part, in other genres that demonstrated novelistic qualities, genres such as chronicles and hagiography. The reappearance of the romance in the twelfth century rather than at an apocalyptic moment seems to have been signaled by some indigenous processes already manifest in the eleventh century, processes that implied a marked alteration in the function of reading for pleasure as well as in the nature of the readership involved. Beaton sees the heroic-erotic romance oÃ- Diyenis Abritas appearing earlier in the twelfth century as a harbinger announcing the later twelfth century romances, a resurrection of the ancient novel with its secular erotic content of pairs of lovers undergoing separation, adventures, and reunion. Such are the romances Aristandros and Kallithéa of Konstantinos Manassis, Roddnthi and Dosiklis of Theódoros Pródromos, Ysmini and Ysminias of Efstáthios Makrembol Ã-tis, and Drósilla and Hariklis of NikÃ-tas Evyenianós. Beaton calls Diyenis Ahitas a "proto-romance," a "precursor of the fullyfledged revival of the romance genre in the twelfth century" (p. 28). Still, one Reviews 277 cannot but notice that this complex work—formed of multiple traditions, from the Homeric to the Christian, a work which seems to have been very popular, judging from the wide circulation of its manuscripts—may have been also an example representing a tendency toward the production of a mixed heroic-erotic genre of fiction associated with the East. The themes of the Apeldtai, bandits of the Eastern provinces, in the E and A versions, for example, and the abduction of women to marry by die hero and his father (G version), point toward a tradition where the heroic and the erotic are defined in terms of one another. There is, after all, no plot justification for the abduction of Diyenis's bride other than to create an element of danger and adventure. In this study, Beaton also examines five of what he considers original romances of the later period, namely, TL· TaU of Achilliis, Kallimachos and Chrysorrhói, LiiAstros and Rodámni, Vélthandros and Chrysántm, The Tale of Troy, plus translations from Western prototypes, such as Imperios and Margaróna and Flórios and Platziafl&ra. The general objective and method here, stated in the author's own words, is "the study of literary history through the analysis of texts" (p. 208). On the other hand, the issues that this particular study has to deal with are multiple, complex, and frequendy controversial. The task of this book is indeed formidable, for the author attempts, in addition to analyzing the texts, to restore the medieval Greek romances to their rightful position by providing them with a full...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 276-278
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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