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The activities leading up to this book have taken some years, and it is a pleasure to express my gratitude for the help and support I received from people and institutions along the way. I have fond memories of a stay—one of the many pleasant things made possible by a Fellowship of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences—at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I was a guest at the National Humanities Center in 1990. I profited from seminars on discourse analysis in the Linguistics Department, particularly those given by Wallace Chafe and Sandra Thompson, who also kindly read the embryonic proposals on Homeric speech that I produced at the time.

At a later stage, I had the privilege of spending part of the academic year 1991–92 at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Studies (NIAS), where I wrote the earliest version of what is now Part 1. At NIAS the project benefited from my participation in an interdisciplinary theme group, “Orality and Literacy.” To some of the participants in particular I owe a debt: to Franz Bäuml (University of California, Los Angeles) for opening up the discussion of orality and literacy in the Middle Ages for me, and to David Rubin (Duke University) for his comments on my work from the standpoint of cognitive psychology.

In 1992–93 I was among the Fellows at the Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington, D.C., a stay that was made possible by a grant from the Netherlands Organization for Research. During this most pleasant and fruitful year I not only had the opportunity to work on earlier versions of what are now Chapters 3 and 6 through 8, but also to present my ideas to a number of patient audiences: the Directors and the Fellows at the Center for Hellenic Studies, as well as audiences at Columbia, Brown, Yale, Harvard, and Duke Universities. I thank Suzanne Saïd, Alan Boegehold, Victor Bers, Gregory Nagy, and Keith Stanley for their invitations to present my ideas in their departments.

Even though I was supposed to teach, not write, in the Department of Classics of the University of Virginia in 1993–94, I made much progress during that year, not least because of the graduate seminar I gave there in the winter of 1994, from which the writing of Chapters 4 and 5 gained momentum. I thank my colleagues at UVA for the opportunities they gave me to discuss my work with them. The work saw its completion, finally, at the Université de Montreal, where it benefited not only from a generous teaching schedule but also from a research grant from the university. In this final stage, presentations at the University of Ottawa and the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies helped to shape my thought. I thank Denis Brearly and Franz Bäuml for their invitations.

Welcome advice and encouragement came from many friends and colleagues along the way. I thank Ahuvia Kahane and Ian Rutherford for reading parts of the manuscript in its final stage. Mark Edwards has always been willing to read the results of my projects, finished or unfinished. I thank him for his interest throughout, his faith in this project, and his personal support. I would like also to express my special thanks to Gregory Nagy, for the inspiration that his own work has given me, for the attentive way in which he followed my work from the beginning, and for his advice, both practical and theoretical, during various stages of the project. In the final stage, Terence McKiernan was a most helpful editor, whose criticisms and suggestions enhanced the final form of the text and the articulation of the argument.

Finally there was someone who was not always near but always present, and who in the end, with a logic untainted by too much Homeric special speech, saved the manuscript from some of its more glaring idiosyncrasies. This book is for her.

Egbert J. Barker

Montreal, Canada

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