Heroes, Gods and the Role of Epiphany in English Epic Poetry


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About the Book

This book examines how epic poetry reflects cultural values, and how, in epic poems, the heroes must meet supernatural beings to find answers to essential questions. It begins with three chapters on ancient poetry (including The Iliad and The Odyssey, the Mahabharata, the Epic of Gilgamesh, the Aeneid and the Bhagavad Gita). Subsequent chapters take up the main subject of the book, examining the evolution of English epic poetry from the anonymous Old English Beowulf to Spenser’s The Faerie Queen, Milton’s Paradise Lost, Blake’s Milton, Wordsworth’s The Prelude, Barett Browning’s Aurora Leigh and Derek Walcott’s 1990 poem Omeros.

About the Author(s)

E.L. Risden, emeritus professor of English at St. Norbert College, lives in De Pere, Wisconsin, where he continues to write literary and movie scholarship, speculative fiction, and occasional poetry.

Bibliographic Details

E.L. Risden

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 210
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3541-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface      1

1. Epiphany and the Western Epic Tradition      9
2. The “Duty” Theme in the Epic Tradition      37
3. Epic Individualism      49
4. Beowulf and Sub-liminal Epic Epiphany      64
5. Epiphany and the Rhetoric of (Dis)Enchantment in Spenser’s Faerie Queene      75
6. Paradise Lost and the Resimplification of Epic Epiphany      93
7. William Blake and the Personal Epic Fantastic      109
8. Wordsworth’s Spots of Time: Romantic Epiphany and Nature Spectacular      118
9. Aurora Leigh: Victorian Epic and Woman’s Social Epiphany      142
10. Walcott’s Omeros: Postmodern/Postcolonial Epic Epiphanies      157

A Postscript on Tolkien and the Epic Novel, and a Conclusion      165
Chapter Notes      181
Bibliography      195
Index      201