Every great civilisation from the Bronze Age to the present day has produced epic poems. Epic poetry has always had a profound influence on other literary genres, including its own parody in the form of mock-epic. This Companion surveys over four thousand years of epic poetry from the Babylonian Epic of Gilgamesh to Derek Walcott's postcolonial Omeros. The list of epic poets analysed here includes some of the greatest writers in literary history in Europe and beyond: Homer, Virgil, Dante, Camões, Spenser, Milton, Wordsworth, Keats and Pound, among others. Each essay, by an expert in the field, pays close attention to the way these writers have intimately influenced one another to form a distinctive and cross-cultural literary tradition. Unique in its coverage of the vast scope of that tradition, this book is an essential companion for students of literature of all kinds and in all ages.
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Preface; 1. The Epic of Gilgamesh A. R. George; 2. Greek epic Jasper Griffin; 3. Roman epic Peter Toohey; 4. Heroic epic poetry in the Middle Ages Karl Reichl; 5. Dante and the epic of transcendence John Freccero; 6. Italian Renaissance epic Giuseppe Mazzotta; 7. Camões's Os Lusíadas: the first modern epic George Monteiro; 8. The Faerie Queene: Britain's national monument Catherine Bates; 9. The seventeenth-century Protestant English epic David Loewenstein; 10. Mock-heroic and English poetry Claude Rawson; 11. Romantic re-appropriations of the epic Michael O'Neill; 12. Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot and the modern epic John Whittier-Ferguson; 13. Derek Walcott's Omeros Robert Hamner; 14. Epic in translation Paul Merchant.
Catherine Bates is Reader in Renaissance Literature at the University of Warwick.