Ranging from Greek and Roman epic to the modern novel via Dante, Milton, wordsworth, Sterne and Dickens, A. D. Nuttall has written and ambitious and original book.
What is the difference between a natural beginning and the beginning of a story? Some deny that there are any beginnings in nature, except perhaps for the origin of the universe itself, suggesting that elsewhere we have only a continuum of events, into which beginnings are variously `read' by different societies. This book argues that history is full of real beginnings but that poets and novelists are indeed free to begin their stories wherever they like. Theancient poet Homer laid down a rule for his successors when he began his epic by plunging in medias res, `into the midst of things'. Later writers, however, persistently play off the `interventionist', in medias res opening against some sense of a `deep', natural beginning: Genesis or the birth of achild. The author also outlines how the inspiring Muse of epic gives way to the poet's ego, dies, revives and dies again.Ranging from Greek and Roman epic to the modern novel via Dante, Milton, Wordsworth, Sterne and Dickens, A. D. Nuttall has written an ambitious and original book which will be of interest to a wide variety of readers.
Part 1 The beginning of the "Aeneid"voice of the poet; polysemous epic; the beginning of the story. Part 2 The "Commedia": intervention - poetic and divine; Dante and Virgil; Chaucer and the "overheard opening". Part 3 "Paradise Lost": Renaissance ego and the rebirth of the Muse; Genesis and the beginning of "Paradise Lost". Part 4 "The Prelude": the retroactive poem; the Muse and the dead self. Part 5 "Tristram Shandy": telling versus explaining; comedy as bodily critique. Part 6 David and Pip: the discarded face; modes of self-reference. Part 7 The sense of a beginning: the idea of a natural beginning; finding the Muse.