La Fable Antique, Tome Premier: La fable grecque avant Phèdre

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Nøjgaard, Morten
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I have long wanted to study this volume, particularly with someone who could guide me through it. That pleasure still eludes me. It would have been wonderful to read it with Pack Carnes! With its 600 pages, it is a veritable tome, and it is only the first volume of two. I will look now for a copy of Volume II. What I can do now is to offer Lloyd Daly's review from Classical World in May of 1965. As the first modern attempt at a full analytical study and history of the fable in antiquity this book must be given serious consideration. Yet it is probably premature since it could not take advantage of B.E. Perry's fundamental 'Demetrius of Phalerum and the Aesopic Fables,' TAPA 93 (1962) 287-346, nor of his forthcoming Loeb 'Babrius and Phaedrus' with its extensive introduction, nor of the completion of his 'Aesopica.' The excesses of literary theory as to the origin, development, history and particularly the definition of the genre fable are legion. Few literary theorists have plunged into the sea of fable without striking the very shallow bottom and thus muddying the waters. It is not clear to me that Nojgaard has been notably successful, although he wrestles valiantly with the difficult problems, shows a thorough command of the extensive materials on the subject and demonstrates considerable acumen in evaluating the work of others. His weakness seems an excess of subtlety. Book One deals with the theoretical problems to be considered. Book Two subjects the Augustana recension of the collection of Greek prose fables to a very detailed 'structural analysis.' The process results in classification and anatomy of fable which might prove useful were it not buried beneath a mountain of unnecessarily ponderous special terminology and jargon which would overwhelm even epic. Book Three is the historical section. It takes full account of the new Sumerian material, which makes it clear that the fable is not Greek in origin. It recognizes that the ghost of Crusius' Ionic Volksbuch has been laid, but raises a new spectre of a fifth century Attic collection, for which there is no shred of evidence and which makes nonsense of the known collection of Demetrius of Phalerum. Am ambitious book, a tiresome book, an unreliable guide to the uninitiated. This review only whets my appetite the more!
Nyt Nordisk Forlag: Arnold Busck
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