From: "Alice K. Turner"
Subject: Re: (urth) Generic Considerations Date: Sun, 27 Apr 2003 09:47:09 -0400 From: "Tami Whitehead" To: > > That's the point. Wolfe puts puzzles in to show > > that _the meaning > > is in the text_. He believes very strongly in the > > truth of a text. > > The Truth. The Text. If the truth-value of every > > text is radically > > indeterminate, why believe? > > > > >--Blattid > > > > I rarely poke my head out, but have to agree with > Blattid, that Wolfe does indeed use puzzles and other > 'tricks' to illustrate this deeply held conviction of > the Truth of the Text. > > In the discussion of other authors, I didn't see > Robert Graves addressed, but his viewpoint was > similar, and to an extent broader, in that in included > Truth in Texts not only of his novels and poetry, but > how he read other works, particularly those dealing > with ancient history or classical mythology. His take > on myth and history was contested largely by those who > take the 'social construction' theory--what the group > agrees upon as the interpretation is more valid than > what the writer was intending to convey, or worse, > that what the writer was trying to convey is > meaningless until and unless we as a society give it > meaning, or worth. Any interpretation is suspect until > ratified by a formless, shifting gerrymander type > group. Bleh! > > Paricularly in the Soldier books, Graves' influence on > Wolfe's work is 'in your face.' Arcane practices are > given a practical interpretation, names and words are > misused in the way they were misused *at the time* > illustrating just how misconceptions arose, and > outright manipulation of the facts and propanganda > machines of the Spartans and Persians take care of the > rest. Wolfe clearly has seen past the 'psychological > manifest' of the contemporary interpratation of myth > and history, making it not the dry study of Xenophon > and his horsemanship, nor a couch trip of social > psycho-analysis, but a living and breathing Life that > was Lived by Real People, complete with gods and > goddesses and wights and all manner of beasties that, > not as a type of zeitgeist, but as real entities with > their own agendas, lived in the world with men. > > So. An exercise in critical thought? A longing for the > return of impassioned scholarship? I have no way of > knowing why Wolfe feels this strongly and demostrates > this feeling in his works, but there it is. And I am > tickled to death that he does so, that his worlds are > complete and intact and completely open to us, if we > only look. Bless his pea-pickin' heart. > > razorkittee This is from the FAQ of alt.mythology. I wrote it. Don't subscribe to alt.mythology; it has been hijacked by thugs. I could not be sorrier to say so; it was once an enchanting newsgroup. -alga Robert Graves (1895 - 1985)Graves, a considerable poet, essayist and novelist, wrote two books that have had a great influence on the modern study of mythology. The first is The Greek Myths, published sometimes in two volumes, also, more usefully, in one. This is probably the handiest reference guide to any mythology ever compiled.* (It is not the one to get if you just "want the story.") Graves, also a learned classicist, in effect invented a form of hypertext for the printed page many decades before html was ever dreamed of. The brief chapters are first divided into alphabetized paragraphs which tell all or part of a myth (subsequent chapters continue it). Each paragraph is end-noted to its source(s) from Greece or Rome (Roman authors are sourced, but only Greek mythology is considered). Following that, brief numbered paragraphs give Graves's explanations and interpretations of the text. At the end of the book is an index of names, giving pronunciation, translation of meaning (when applicable) and all citations. Hebrew Myths, written with Raphael Patai, uses the same wonderfully flexible format, but can't be said to be so influential, possibly because the Bible, for many people, is inadmissible as mythology. Graves's other big book, The White Goddess, may be the most eccentric non-fictional work ever written by a classicist. Its influence on the popular perception of mythology, both Greek and Northern European, has been enormous, not necessarily a good thing, but certainly an interesting one. The book has been hard-wired into 20th-century cultural history despite being almost entirely romantic (or poetic) personal theory. Its theories underwrite modern neo-paganism, and, even more, have promoted or anointed the concept of the Triple Goddess to a point past common sense--and scholarly protest. Otherwise hardheaded people, with a nose for hokum, can love The White Goddess--its charms are many--without necessarily embracing it, or is that her? Beware, she's dangerous. A number of Graves's novels may be of interest to alt.mythology readers: Hercules, My Shipmate; Homer's Daughter; King Jesus; his translation of Apuleis's Latin novel The Golden Ass; and the two non-mythological novels about the Emperor Claudius that are the basis for TV's great mini-series, "I, Claudius." * If you know how to read it, that is. It is important, but easy, to learn how to read Graves as a solid reference tool. Take all the alphabetized material, the footnotes and the index as gospel -- he's completely reliable there. Take the numbered material (the interpretations) with a great big pinch of salt (remembering, however, that he was a learned, cultured and well-traveled man, also that he respected the reader enough to keep his opinions separate from the facts). Keep in mind that the poetic mind does not work quite as other minds do. If you doubt that, read The White Goddess. --