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The Shock of the AncientLiterature and History in Early Modern France$
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Larry F. Norman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780226591483

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226591506.001.0001

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introduction Experiencing Antiquity

introduction Experiencing Antiquity

(p.1) INTRODUCTION Experiencing Antiquity
The Shock of the Ancient

Larry F. Norman

University of Chicago Press

This chapter introduces this book's exploration of how new conceptions of literature and its prerogatives arose from a rereading of the most ancient texts. But first, the chapter states, it is necessary to fully appreciate how those ancient texts came to possess disturbing, even explosive, power. That power depended on a rising historical outlook which radically defamiliarized the ancient world and made it “so little resemble our own.” Part 1 of this work thus examines the period's increasing sensitivity to the divide between antiquity and modernity. The second part of the book turns from cool-headed efforts to historicize antiquity to the impassioned responses that this historicized past provoked when related (and opposed) to modernity. The emphasis shifts from ancient Greece to modern Paris and Versailles, or, phrased more accurately, from the concept of historicism to the rhetoric of presentism. The last part looks at few aesthetic issues.

Keywords:   ancient texts, antiquity, modernity, historicism, presentism, historical outlook, ancient world

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