Openings: Narrative Beginnings from the Epic to the Novel
What is the difference between a natural beginning and the beginning of a story? Some deny that there are any beginnings in nature, except perhaps for the origin of the universe itself, suggesting that elsewhere we have only a continuum of events, into which beginnings are variously 'read' by different societies. This book argues that history is full of real beginnings but that poets and novelists are indeed free to begin their stories wherever they like. The ancient poet Homer laid down a rule for his successors when he began his epic by plunging in medias res, 'into the midst of things'. The inspiring Muse of epic gives way to the poet's ego, dies, revives and dies again. Later writers, however, persistently play off the 'interventionist', in medias res opening against some sense of a 'deep', natural beginning: Genesis or the birth of a child. Ranging from Greek and Roman epic to the modern novel via Dante, Milton, Wordsworth, Sterne, and Dickens, A. D. Nuttall has written an ambitious and original book which will be of interest to a wide variety of readers.
The Beginning of the Aeneid
3 other sections not shown
Aeneas Aeneid allegory ancient becomes birth century Chaos Chaucer Christian Clarendon Press classical Commedia consciousness creation Criticism Dante Dante's darkness David Copperfield dead death Dickens divine E. R. Dodds Eclogues Eliot English epic essay F. H. Bradley fact father fiction figure Genesis Greek Heaven Homer human Ibid idea Iliad imagination Inferno inspiration invocation John Milton Latin light lines literal literary literature London Meanwhile medias res medias res opening medieval metaphor Milton mind Miss Trotwood Muse narrative natural beginning nekuia never notion novel Odyssey origin Oxford University Press Paradise Lost pastoral perhaps person poem poet poet's poetic poetry pre-echoed Prelude proem Purgatorio reader reality reference Renaissance Roman seems sense sentence Shakespeare sing somehow song speak spirit Sterne story strange tell things thought translation Tristram Shandy Trotwood turn unconscious Virgil Virgilian voice vols word Wordsworth writing wrote