Greek tragedy : an introduction /

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Main Author: Zimmermann, Bernhard.
Format: Book
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Review by Choice Review

Books on Greek tragedy and the Greek theater so abound that the appearance of still another one will be occasion for both curiosity and reexamination of existing sources. The work under review is a translation of Zimmerman's Die griechische Tragodie (Munich, 1986) in reasonably readable English prose. It is a brief introductory handbook that can provide the uninitiated with a rather pedestrian and mostly uninspired introduction to Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. It contains basic factual information about the authors (including somewhat labored discussions of the chronologies of the plays), straightforward summaries of the plays, and very brief interpretative remarks about the plays themselves, together with technical metrical information that most students will find bewildering if they do not know Greek in the original. The fairly extensive bibliography is much more than any English-reading student will pursue (much of it in German), and the index includes many of the Greek technical terms. An appendix consists of four genealogical charts. The book's strongest feature is probably the introduction, which deals with canonization and survival, tragedy and cult, tragedy and the polis, theatrical conditions, structure, meter, music, the chorus, and dramatic action. The book's primary virtue is its brevity; there are much fuller and more insightful introductions to Greek tragedy that continue to be available, but Zimmerman's volume could be used by those who need basic information with little or no critical analysis. J. E. Rexine Colgate University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

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