Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Beard Blows a Whistle on Kagan

I wrote a while back about the professor whom I quite liked though he didn't seem to have read anything new since graduates school.  Sounds like he is not alone:
...it is not the shadow of the nineteenth century that hovers most threateningly over Kagan's Thucydides, but the shadow of recent scholarship.  This book is, for the most part, rooted in the work of the 1960s and 1970s as is amply reflected in the footnotes (most of the "keen readers" of Thucydudes' text to whom Kagan referrs are keen readers of a generation or two ago; most of his "brilliant modern historians" were writing half a century go).  Occasionally he alludes darkly to up-to-the-minute "literary" approaches to the History,, those that treat Thucydides as a "purely literary genius, free from the trammels of historical objectivity."  If these allusions refer to the dominant strand of research in Thucydides over the last thirty years or so--studies that stress above all the literary construction of his History, and to links to other genres, cuch as drma and poetry--then Kagan has hardly appreciated their point at all.
 That's Mary Beard in the New York Review of Books for Sept. 30, reviewing Donald Kagan's new Thucydides.  Yet like me with my laggard professor, on the whole she rather liked it.

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