Cover image for The muse learns to write : reflections on orality and literacy from antiquity to the present
The muse learns to write : reflections on orality and literacy from antiquity to the present
Havelock, Eric Alfred.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New Haven : Yale University Press, [1986]

Physical Description:
144 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Format :

On Order



Reflections on Orality and Literacy from Antiquity to the Present.The intention of this book is to present a unified picture of a crisis that occurred in the history of human communication, when Greek orality transformed itself into Greek literacy.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

An extremely useful summary and extension of the revisionist thinking of Eric Havelock, whom most classicists and comparatists would rank among the premier classical scholars of the last three decades. It was Havelock's Preface to Plato (1963) that first exhaustively stated his thesis that Homer's Iliad and Odyssey originally served as oral repositories of ancient Greek cultural values, attitudes, beliefs, and customs-in effect as an ``oral encylopedia'' before the advent of writing as a medium for the transmission of knowledge. In this little volume the author reviews the development of his brilliant theses about Greek orality and literacy throughout his many publications, tracing the modern rediscovery of orality to the watershed years of 196263, during which his Preface to Plato (1963) and crucial works by Claude L;evi-Strauss, Jack Goody and Ian Watt, Marshall McLuhan, and Ernst Mayr first appeared. The discussion includes chapters on ancient and modern orality and literacy, as well as helpful recapitulations of technical arguments in terms that suit the general reading audience. Because the book presents important (though controversial) ideas in such an available format, and because the field of studies in oral tradition is fast becoming such an important interdisciplinary area, this book is a necessary addition to any public, community college, or undergraduate library.-J.M. Foley, University of Missouri-Columbia