This is a blog about language and literature. I’ve always been fascinated by words, by how words form sentences, and how sentences form poems and stories. The technical term for this fascination is philology—the love of language. Friedrich Nietzsche defined philology as the art of reading slowly—that’s where I got the title for this blog. In the section titled What is Philology? I discuss what I take to be the four major components of philology: historical linguistics, the editing of texts, the interpretation of language in context, and the interpretation of literature with special attention to language. I’m interested in all of these, and I will post blogs on all of them, but my own work lies primarily in the third and fourth areas.
I created this site as an invitation for anyone who has a passion for literature—readers and writers of all sorts. I would like to think of this blog as one part of a conversation among people who share an interest in the way language works and the way it turns into art. Please feel free to enter the conversation by dropping me a note with your reactions to my posts or with your own thoughts. I welcome your comments and suggestions.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Karen L. Hogan, who did all the hard work of designing and mounting this blog. Without her help it wouldn’t have happened.
My Most Recent Blog Posts
In previous posts I talked about three aspects of narrative fiction: the synthetic, the mimetic, and the thematic. These aspects, in my view, are simultaneous and inseparable, but it can be useful for the analyst to pry them apart, or at least to consider them as if they could be pried apart. In my previous … Continue reading The Furniture of Fiction
In this post and a few following I want to look at the mimetic aspect of narrative, the building of a narrative world. The word mimesis is complicated. Literary critics tend to equate mimesis and realism. You can see this bias in the title of Erich Auerbach’s great study, Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in … Continue reading The “Real” and the “Realistic”
Recently I’ve been posting on topics in classical philology, but I thought I would switch gears a little and write about another aspect of my work, the philological analysis of literature in general. These new posts will deal with new topics, topics I’m still exploring. This is very much work in progress, subject to revision, … Continue reading Three Questions
In recent posts I’ve been considering whether or not the ancient Greeks believed in their myths. The answer, I suppose, is Well, yes, sort of, but in a complicated way that varied from person to person and situation to situation. In this post I want to look at a more specific question. I’m engaged in … Continue reading What Did Pausanias Believe?
One of the characteristic features of myth is variability. A novel has an author, and the author has the authority to say, “This is my novel, and you can’t change it. You can’t have Elizabeth Bennet run off with Mr. Collins. She marries Mr. Darcy, and that’s it.” A living author has legal rights to … Continue reading Which Version Do You Mean?
In this series of posts I’m mostly interested in exploring what the ancient travel writer Pausanias has to say about local myth and local ritual in ancient Greece, but a number of people have asked me to say something about whether or not the ancient Greeks believed their myths. That’s an interesting question—it’s a question … Continue reading Can You Believe It?