Posted by Dennis » 2 Comments »
The reason, I hope, will be plain when you read the title of a book reviewed in the BMCR and the following quotation from the reviewer: Feeling History. Lucan, Stoicism, and the Poetics of Passion.
Francesca D’Alessandro Behr [D.] has produced an excellent and thought-provoking study of the figure of apostrophe and its many implications in Lucan’s De Bello Civili. New scholarship on the poem will now need to take account of D.’s examination of the narrator’s voice in Lucan. Her basic thesis is that Lucan’s narrator intervenes in his own narrative, at the expense of the reader’s immersion, in order to guide his audience’s interpretation of the events he is recounting.
I wonder first what the title is supposed to mean (what’s wrong with ‘Apostrophe in Lucan’, for example?) and I’m at a loss so I’ll just accept it and move on. What of the reviewer’s statement?
The only reason we might need someone to tell us what the narrator was up to was if we hadn’t read Lucan for ourselves. We haven’t. In fact, we haven’t read very much literature, have we? And because of that an endless run of PhDs does the reading for us, then pats one another on the back for telling us what they got out of it. They’re always ‘negotiating’ or ‘privileging’ or talking vaguely about poetics or imputing subversion. In this case, we need more than 200 pages to learn that the poet tried to ‘guide his audience’s interpretation’. Wow.
This kind of scholarship wearies me, and made me stop caring about graduate school a long time ago. I don’t like what it means to be a scholar, and I enjoy teaching all the more because of it.