Homer in the Twentieth Century: Between World Literature and the Western Canon

Barbara Graziosi, Emily Greenwood

Research output: Book/ReportBook

32 Scopus citations


The 20th century saw many contrasting approaches to Homer. On the one hand, Homer was often seen as the father of the western literary canon, the first author in a genealogy that included canonical poets such as Apollonius, Virgil, Dante, and Milton. On the other, Homeric poetry was thought to have strong affinities with poems, performances, and traditions that were sometimes deemed neither literary nor western: the epic of Yugoslavia and sub-Saharan Africa, the keening performances of Irish women, the spontaneous inventiveness of the Blues. This collection of essays attempts to trace the tensions and connections between different visions of Homer in the 20th century. Part I investigates the place of Homer in the shifting cultural landscapes of the 20th century; Part II explores the connections between scholarly and creative approaches to the Homeric poems; Part III looks at some of the means through which writers, poets, scholars, and film-makers mapped their distance from Homer; and Part IV discusses the political and interpretative challenges posed by reading (and not reading) Homer in the 20th century. The book contributes to current debates about the nature of the western literary canon, the evolving concept of world literature, the relationship between orality and the written word, and the dialogue between texts across time and space. It argues that the Homeric poems played an important role in shaping those debates and, conversely, that the experiences of the 20th century opened new avenues for the interpretation of Homer's much-travelled texts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages336
ISBN (Electronic)9780191711602
ISBN (Print)9780199298266
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Homer
  • Homeric epic
  • Reception
  • Western canon
  • World literature


Dive into the research topics of 'Homer in the Twentieth Century: Between World Literature and the Western Canon'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this