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This book explores Michael Psellos' place in the history of Greek rhetoric and self-representation and his impact on the development of Byzantine literature. Avoiding the modern dilemma that vacillates between Psellos the pompous rhetorician and Psellos the ingenious thinker, Professor Papaioannou unravels the often misunderstood Byzantine rhetoric, its rich discursive tradition and the social fabric of elite Constantinopolitan culture which rhetoric addressed. The book offers close readings of Psellos' personal letters, speeches, lectures and historiographical narratives, and analysis of other early Byzantine and classical models of authorship in Byzantine book culture, such as Gregory of Nazianzos, Synesios of Cyrene, Hermogenes and Plato. It also details Psellos' innovative attention to authorial creativity, performative mimesis and the aesthetics of the self. Simultaneously, it traces within Byzantium complex expressions of emotion and gender, notions of authorship and subjectivity, and theories of fictionality and literature, challenging the common fallacy that these are modern inventions.Read more
- The first single, full-length study in English of this most important Byzantine writer
- Presents the first history of Byzantine rhetoric as literature
- Positions Byzantine literature in the context of other well-studied literary traditions (such as classical literature, Western medieval literature and medieval Arabic)
Reviews & endorsements
'This work leads to rich revelations about what Psellos was getting at in his writing, but beyond him, it provides us with subtle and convincing explorations of Byzantine culture, particularly the pervasive importance of ancient and biblical models of ideal behavior for the formation of character and the expression of self. Together with Derek Krueger's Liturgical Subjects: Christian Ritual, Biblical Narrative, and the Formation of the Self in Byzantium (2014), Papaioannou's exploration of Psellos's self-presentation lays the groundwork for understanding Byzantine conceptions of self and identity.' Leonora Neville, Speculum
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- Date Published: September 2016
- format: Paperback
- isbn: 9781316629413
- length: 364 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 19 mm
- weight: 0.49kg
- contains: 8 b/w illus.
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Part I. The Professional Rhetor and Theory of Authorship:
1. The philosopher's rhetoric
2. The rhetor as creator: Psellos on Gregory of Nazianzos
3. The return of the poet: mimesis and the aesthetics of variation
Part II. Self-Representation:
4. Aesthetic charm and urbane ethos
5. The statue's smile: discourses of Hellenism
6. Female voice: gender and emotion
Conclusion: from rhetoric to literature
Appendix: books and readers in the reception of Psellos.
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