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Hellenic Whispers

Modes of Greek Literary Influence in Seventeenth-Century French Drama


Susanna Phillippo

Hellenic Whispers builds a picture of how Greek literature was received and reworked by the authors of seventeenth-century French tragedy. Using case studies, the author establishes a new methodology for exploring the variety of responses and creative processes involved in these encounters with classical Greek material. The book explores the complex interactions surrounding these adaptations of Greek dramatic material, involving the input of scribes, editors, translators and earlier authors, and asks the important question of what these dramatists conceived of themselves as doing. Focusing on a time and place where cultural predilections and a lack of linguistic training made engagement with the original Greek texts problematic, the book explores the creative role of intermediary sources, the build-up of chain reactions between sources and the cumulative processes of recreation involved in the genesis of seventeenth-century dramatic texts. The volume also goes on to explore wider questions relevant to the classical tradition and issues of ‘source study’ and reception.


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This book has had an unusually long genesis in the current era of regular research assessments. Reasons for this include its manifestly rather unwieldy physical length, the (probably not unconnected) tribulations of finding a publisher, and the knock-on ef fect of this in negotiating the exigencies of census deadlines for previous Research Assessment Exercises, as well as the usual ups and downs of academic life – and some not so usual, including the loss by theft of a manuscript notebook! I hope that the finished product is the better for the interval between the PhD thesis (completed in 1992) from which the concept of the book ultimately derives (along with the content of Chapter 5), and the final form of the whole; certainly there has been time for my thinking to mature and develop greater nuance, and to benefit from feedback and academic interchange throughout that period. No project such as this could be achieved without a wide range of sup- port and help. One result of this book’s lengthy genesis is that there are a correspondingly large number of people and institutions to whom thanks are due; there is also an increased danger of my overlooking some among the many individuals who have helped over the years, and if this happens I would wish to of fer sincere apologies. I shall do my best here, however, to acknowledge particular debts of gratitude now that this project is finally near fulfilment. As I also said in the preface to a previous...

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