Sounding the Classics: From Sophocles to Thomas Mann

Hardcover | January 8, 1997

byRudolph Binion

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This book is a comparative study of 12 works of fiction broadly representative of the Western canon. Its aim is to discover what gives these 12 works their lasting appeal and vitality over and beyond their formal qualities. It focuses on the interplay of text and subtext within each work after defining these terms at the outset. It then compares its 12 sample classics systematically in a conclusion that argues from the works themselves to classics in general.

Binion's key finding is that for a piece of fiction to feel deep, whole, and great, as classics do, its text must be underpinned from start to finish by a subtext, or alternative reading, which calls that text itself into question. A book for scholar, student and educated public alike, no serious reader will be able to consider what makes a classic without reference to this work.

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From Our Editors

"At a time when scholars question the validity of a literary canon as well as any single interpretation of texts, Binion offers a boldly original and compelling explanation of why a dozen classics are classics and what they mean. Along the way he offers succinct, brilliant interpretations of the historical context of cultural developme...

From the Publisher

This book is a comparative study of 12 works of fiction broadly representative of the Western canon. Its aim is to discover what gives these 12 works their lasting appeal and vitality over and beyond their formal qualities. It focuses on the interplay of text and subtext within each work after defining these terms at the outset. It the...

Format:HardcoverDimensions:160 pagesPublished:January 8, 1997Publisher:Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0313304580

ISBN - 13:9780313304583

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From Our Editors

"At a time when scholars question the validity of a literary canon as well as any single interpretation of texts, Binion offers a boldly original and compelling explanation of why a dozen classics are classics and what they mean. Along the way he offers succinct, brilliant interpretations of the historical context of cultural developments throughout Western history as the book treats themes of guilt, alienation, friendship, Christianity, truth, family, sex, art, and death". Stephen Kernauthor of The Culture of Time and Space:1880-1918"Dazzling new insights into the greatest books of the Western heritage. Binion does what none has done before: discovering the two basic archetypes (text and subtext) uniting a dozen otherwise divergent classics. Result: thereby this book on the classics has itself become a classic". Peter ViereckPulitzer winner and author of Tide and Continuities"Sounding the Classics makes studious use of Binion's linguistic expertise, and of his thorough grasp of cultural and literary history, but above all his analyses+ are sustained