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The Female Homer An Exploration of Women's Epic Poetry
978-1-61149-132-6 • Hardback
January 2010 • $90.00 • (£57.95)
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Pages: 350
Size: 6 3/4 x 9 1/2
By Jeremy M. Downes
Literary Criticism | Reference
University Press Copublishing Division | University of Delaware
The Female Homer opens with simple questions: Are there any women's epic poems? If so, what are the central characteristics of these epics and how do they relate to the traditional vision of epic poetry as male-authored and masculinist, as powerful and patriarchal? The book explores relations among women's epic poems over a great span—from the ancient Sumerian Descent of Inanna to Rita Dove, from the oral epics of the Russian bylinists to contemporary "language" poets. Through brief, accessible chapters, the book opens up the mythic structure of women's epic, developing its relations with feminism and patriarchy, with religion and democracy, with the personal and the political, with its literary grandmothers and grandfathers. The Female Homer, though aware of the divergences, focuses on bringing together the strong affinities between these diverse epic voices. In doing so, it charts—for the first time—the otherwise invisible tradition of women's epic.
Jeremy M. Downes is associate professor of English at Auburn University.
The index is a thorough and accurate guide to texts and authors mentioned in the text. Downes clearly dedicated a great deal of effort to this book over many years.
Bryn Mawr Classical Review