The Poet's Truth: A Study of the Poet in Virgil's Georgics

The Poet's Truth: A Study of the Poet in Virgil's Georgics


By (author) Christine Perkell

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  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Format: Hardback | 221 pages
  • Dimensions: 152mm x 222mm x 19mm | 467g
  • Publication date: 1 December 1989
  • Publication City/Country: Berkerley
  • ISBN 10: 0520063236
  • ISBN 13: 9780520063235

Product description

The controversy over Virgil's optimism or pessimism, which has long absorbed readers of his poetry, might fruitfully yield to a perspective which allows contradictions to stand unresolved, to constitute, in fact, the essence of his poems' meaning. So interpreted, the pervasive contradictions of the "Georgics" are not problems to be solved, but expressions of the poet's vision of fundamental tensions in human experience. Focusing on the figure of the poet in his relationship to the farmer, Professor Perkell studies oppositions between power and beauty, profit and art, matter and spirit, which are critical to the poem's meaning. She points to the poet's privileging of myth over "praeceptum," of divine revelation over experiment and practice, and of mystery over solution. The poem's oppositions find ultimate expression in the "bougonia," literally false as Georgic precept but metaphorically true as image of Iron Age technology and culture. Through this metaphor, the poet suggests the high value of his own truth and implicitly challenges the values of the agricultural, material poem which the "Georgics" on its surface professes to be. Shaped by insights of reader-response and structuralist criticism, this new study of the "Georgics" should interest Classicists and students of literature.

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Author information

Christine Perkell is an Associate Professor of Classics at Dartmouth. This is her first book.