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Oral Poetry

An Introduction

1990
Author:

Paul Zumthor
Translated by Kathy Murphy-Judy
Foreword by Walter J. Ong

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A penetrating analytical study of the sources of orality and contemporary modes of poetic practice by a prominent literary theorist. Zumthor discusses the development of oral poetry from antiquity to the present.

A penetrating analytical study of the sources of orality and contemporary modes of poetic practice by a prominent literary theorist. Zumthor discusses the development of oral poetry from antiquity to the present.

Oral Poetry: An Introduction is not only important, but opportune. The book will certainly take its place among major works of modern critical theory.

Times Literary Supplement

Coinciding with the renewal of interest in the richly diverse yet remarkably homogeneous tradition of medieval literature, publication of Oral Poetry: An Introduction provides a penetrating analytic study of the sources of orality and contemporary modes of poetic practice. Paul Zumthor, the foremost literary theorist of Western orality, discusses the development of oral poetry from antiquity to the present—ranging from the way in which it was produced in the Middle Ages to griots in present day Africa. In his comprehensive treatment, Zumthor discusses general issues concerning oral poetry, from primary to mechanized orality (including the setting of text to music); the forms of oral poetry; the epic in the West, Africa, and other parts of the globe; the oral poet’s texte; performance in its manifold styles across the world; roles played in oral poetry (the poet as interpreter, the hearers, the variable duration of oral poetry in time and space, etc.); and oral ritual actions from archaic times to the present—Homer to Bob Dylan.

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Paul Zumthor is Professor Emeritus at the University of Montreal and the author of numerous books, including Speaking of the Middle Ages.

Walter J. Ong is Emeritus University Professor of Humanities, William E. Haren Professor of English, and professor of Humanities in Psychiatry at St. Louis University. Minnesota published his The Presence of the Word in paperback.

Book Default Image

Oral Poetry: An Introduction is not only important, but opportune. The book will certainly take its place among major works of modern critical theory.

Times Literary Supplement