This one is a very awesome book which collects recent scholarship on Lucan (including Henderson and Masters, among lots of others) and displays it in a narrative format which is both enticing and bold.
Is Lucan’s brilliant and grotesque epic Civil War an example of ideological poetry at its most flagrant, or is it a work that despairingly proclaims the meaninglessness of
ideology? Shadi Bartsch offers a startlingly new answer to this split debate on the Roman poet’s magnum opus.
Reflecting on the disintegration of the Roman republic in the wake of the civil war that began in 49 B.C., Lucan (writing during the grim tyranny of Nero’s Rome) recounts that fateful conflict with a strangely ambiguous portrayal of his republican hero, Pompey. Although the story is one of a tragic defeat, the language of his epic is more often violent and nihilistic than heroic and tragic. And Lucan is oddly fascinated by the graphic destruction of lives, the violation of human bodies–an interest paralleled in his deviant syntax and fragmented poetry. In an analysis that draws on contemporary political thought ranging from Hannah Arendt and Richard Rorty to the poetry of Vietnam veterans, as well as on literary theory and ancient sources, Bartsch finds in the paradoxes of Lucan’s poetry both a political irony that responds to the universally perceived need for, yet suspicion of, ideology, and a recourse to the redemptive power of storytelling. This shrewd and lively book contributes substantially to our understanding of Roman civilization and of poetry as a means of political expression.
Admittedly, you will get a lot of Lucan in my book. The man was a rhetorical innovator like none before and only one or two afterwards (wink, wink). I would also like to recommend this book for studies on Lucan.
If you have read this blog for much in the last two or so years, you will know the direction my studies and view of the Gospel of Mark has taken since reading Adam Winn’s first monograph. His second work, read fully only this year, has indeed made me that much more indebted to him. And in personal conversations, Dr. Winn has been the true scholar and the gentleman. I’ve, by now, however, removed most of the posts related to this book, although my reviews are still posted at Amazon.com.
I believe that Dr. Winn, has in this volume, laid the groundwork sufficiently to correct errors of the past in mimesis studies, but doesn’t press on fully. Of course, the title of the monograph identifies the scope, and the scope is about identifying the use of Elijah-Elisha narratives in Mark’s gospel.
In this monograph, Adam Winn proposes that the ancient Greco-Roman literary practice of imitation can and should be used when considering literary relationships between biblical texts. After identifying the imitative techniques found in Virgil’s Aeneid, Winn uses those techniques as a window into Mark’s use of the Elijah-Elisha narrative of 1 and 2 Kings. Through careful comparisons between numerous pericopes of both respective narratives, Winn argues that the Markan evangelist has, at many points, clearly and creatively imitated the Elijah-Elisha narrative and has relied on this narrative as a primary source.
So, get those books.