The Muse Learns to Write

Reflections on Orality and Literacy from Antiquity to the Present

Eric A. Havelock

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One of the most original and penetrating thinkers in Greek studies describes the transformation from oral culture to literacy in classical times and reflects upon its continued meaning for us today.

“Fresh insights into the orality-literacy shift in human consciousness from one who has long been studying this shift in ancient Greece and has now brought his vast learning and reflections to bear on our own times. This book is for a wide audience and calls for thoroughly rethinking current views on language, thought, and society from classical scholarship through modern philosophy, anthropology, and poststructuralism.”—Walter J. Ong

“All in all, we have in this book the summary statement of one of the great pioneers in the study of oral and literate culture, fascinating in its scope and rewarding in its sophistication. As have his other works, this book will contribute mightily to curing the biases resulting from our own literacy.”—J. Peter Denny, Canadian Journal of Linguistics

“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. . . . The book presents important (though controversial) ideas in. . . an available format.”—Choice

"Fresh insights into the orality-literacy shift in human consciousness from one who has long been studying this shift in ancient Greece and has now brought his vast learning and reflections to bear on our own times. This book is for a wide audience and calls for thoroughly rethinking current views on language, thought, and society from classical scholarship through modern philosophy, anthropology, and poststructuralism."—Walter J. Ong, s.j., University Professor of Humanities, William E. Haren Professor of English, Professor of Humanities in Psychiatry, Saint Louis University 
 

 

 

 

  
 

"A valuable and extremely interesting restatement and extension of Havelock's theory that will command respect even as it sparks controversy."—Bernard Knox

"A concise study of the relationship between orality and literacy. . . . An excellent resource for those seeking an introduction to an extremely complex topic."—Thomas J. Sienkewicz, Magill's Literary Annual 1987


"We have in this book the summary statement of one of the great pioneers in the study of oral and literate culture, fascinating in its scope and rewarding in its sophistication. As have his other works, this book will contribute mightily to curing the biases resulting from our own literacy."—J.Peter Denny, Canadian Journal of Linguistics
 

"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."—J.M. Foley, Choice

"Havelock's assumptions are ever provocative. . . . The book should find a wide following since it is addressed to a present day audience who has witnessed the transformation of a culture solely dependent upon the written word to one yielding to an orality based on radio and television."—Charles Rowan Beye, Classical World

"Havelock offers a brief but insightful assessment of the current state of the art, suggests arenas of investigation and exploration for his fellow scholars, and once again contributes to the development of a more comprehensive understanding of the human condition. One can hardly ask for more."—Carl J. Couch, Journal of Communication
ISBN: 9780300043822
Publication Date: July 27, 1988
160 pages, 5.5 x 8.25