Thursday, February 11, 2016


Carpenter's Theorem

Rhys Carpenter (1889-1980), Folk Tale, Fiction and Saga in the Homeric Epics (1946; rpt. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), pp. 31-32:
It is this direct borrowing from the poet's own experience and from his own surrounding material world that I am terming Fiction. It is this which makes his re-creation of the heroic past seem so immediately present and so vivid. Indeed, since it is fiction which imparts verisimilitude to his scenes, we may say without fear of paradox that the more real they seem the more fictional they are. We may even make of this a theorem to assert that the more an oral poet seems to know about a distant event the less he really knows about it and the more certainly he is inventing. The Greek historian Ephoros understood and formulated this principle very satisfactorily when he declared,
In the case of contemporary happenings we think those witnesses the most reliable who give the greatest detail, whereas in the case of events long ago we hold that those who thus go into detail are the least to be believed, since we consider it highly improbable that the actions and words of men should be remembered at such length.

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?