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Hip Sublime
Beat Writers and the Classical Tradition
Sheila Murnaghan and Ralph M. Rosen
The Ohio State University Press, 2018
Despite their self-presentation as iconoclasts, the writers of the Beat Generation were deeply engaged with the classical tradition. Many of them were university-trained and highly conscious of their literary forebears, and they frequently incorporated their knowledge of Greco-Roman literature into their own subversive, experimental practice. Seeking to transcend the superficiality, commercialism, and precariousness of life in post–World War II America, the Beat writers found in their classical models both a venerable literary heritage and a discourse of sublimity through which to articulate their desire for purity.
 
In this volume, a diverse group of contributors explore for the first time the fascinating tensions and paradoxes that arose from interactions between these avant-garde writers and a literary tradition often seen as conservative and culturally hegemonic. With essays that cover the canonical Beat authors—such as Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and William Burroughs—along with less well-known figures—including Kenneth Rexroth, Ed Sanders, and Diane di Prima—Hip Sublime: Beat Writers and the Classical Tradition brings long overdue attention to the Beat movement’s formative appropriation of the Greek and Latin classics.
 
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Odyssean Identities in Modern Cultures
The Journey Home
Gardner, Hunter and Murnaghan, Sheila
The Ohio State University Press, 2014
Addressed to both classicists and students of modern culture, Odyssean Identities in Modern Cultures: The Journey Home traces the Odyssey’s central theme of homecoming in a wide range of narratives from the late nineteenth to the early twenty-first century. Accounts of the journey home in novels, plays, lyric poems, paintings, and a television series explore the challenges of returning from a long absence to reclaim a former life.
 
These retellings raise fresh questions about the relationship between home and the identities we expect to find rooted there and stress the elusiveness of a satisfying homecoming. They remind us that the Odyssey’s happy ending is itself qualified by the hero’s unsettled future, the violence of his return, and the independent desires of his friends and family members. At the same time, they highlight new obstacles to homecoming posed by the modern world with its political and economic upheavals, newly configured family relations and gender roles, and diminished confidence in the stability of identity. The authors discussed include Charlotte Yonge, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Rebecca West, George Seferis, Yannis Ritsos, Gwendolyn Brooks, Charles Frazier, W. B. Sebald, Marilynne Robinson, and Zachary Mason.
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