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Encyclopedia of traditional epics

Author: Guida M Jackson-Laufer
Publisher: Santa Barbara, Calif. : ABC-CLIO, ©1994.
Series: ABC-CLIO literary companion.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
This is the most comprehensive reference work published on epics from cultures worldwide. Jackson is a lecturer in the English Foundations Department at the University of Houston. She defines epic as "a long narrative poem of grand scope, style, and theme that recounts the fantastic exploits of a legendary or historical figure or figures endowed with superhuman might and ... epitomizes the character or ideals of a  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Wörterbuch (Fachlexikon)
Reference works
Criticism, interpretation, etc
Encyclopedias
Encyclopédies
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Guida M Jackson-Laufer
ISBN: 0874367247 9780874367249
OCLC Number: 30112612
Description: xviii, 732 pages : illustrations ; 27 cm.
Contents: Appendix A: Epics listed by geographic location --
Appendix B: Epics listed chronologically --
Appendix C: Epics listed by subgenre.
Series Title: ABC-CLIO literary companion.
Responsibility: Guida M. Jackson.

Abstract:

This is the most comprehensive reference work published on epics from cultures worldwide. Jackson is a lecturer in the English Foundations Department at the University of Houston. She defines epic as "a long narrative poem of grand scope, style, and theme that recounts the fantastic exploits of a legendary or historical figure or figures endowed with superhuman might and ... epitomizes the character or ideals of a certain race, tribe, or nationality." The scope of Traditional Epics includes both oral or folk epics and epics in literary form evolved from oral tradition. Traditional Epics consists of approximately 1,500 entries on specific epics and epic cycles (Fenian Cycle, Beowulf), names of individuals (Hiawatha, Sinbad the Sailor), places (Asgard, Valhalla), and objects (Trojan Horse, Grail). The length of entries ranges from a few lines identifying a character (e.g., Minerva--"the Roman Goddess of handicrafts") to several pages devoted to major epics and concepts. Longer articles on the most important epics typically include the origin of the legend, when and where it was collected (including definitive collections), principal figures, analysis of the poetic pattern, relationship to historical characters and events, means of transmission, and a summary of the epic's content, often listed by chapter. Articles include parenthetical references to sources listed in a bibliography at the end of the encyclopedia. An examination of the geographic origins of the epics reveals the multicultural approach for which the work is valuable. Readers would expect to find entries for the best-known epics from the ancient world (Aeneid, Gilgamesh) and medieval Europe (Arthurian Legend); they will not be disappointed. They will also find entries for less familiar, but no less fascinating, epics from the Philippines (Hudhud), Hawaii (Pele), Vietnam (Lac Long Quang and Au Co), and American Indian groups such as the Brule Sioux (Uncegila's Seventh Spot). Appendixes list epics chronologically and geographically. Seventy black-and-white illustrations include photographs of art objects, pages from illustrated manuscripts, and contemporary depictions of epics. One of the most useful features of the Encyclopedia of Traditional Epics is its discussion of motifs that appear in epics worldwide, such as Flood, Hubris, and Abduction. These articles discuss the concept before proceeding to examples from different cultures. For example, Abandonment discusses Sargon I, Moses, Siegfried of the Norse legends, a Seneca myth, and the hero twins of the Maya Popol Vuh. Despite Jackson's attention to detail, the entries are written lucidly enough to be understood and enjoyed by the nonspecialist.

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