The Hero’s Mortal Walls

Identity and Defenses in Early Epic and Romance

Not Yet Published


New 2023 Pre-Order

Available for pre-order / backorder

About the Book

The heroes of early narrative are the faces of an older world. In constant retellings, their stories hold the memory like members of an extended family. Gilgamesh, Odysseus, Beowulf, Gawain, Roland, Yvain, Genji—in their colorful, often exaggerated ways, they show how the people of their own time and place liked to know themselves. The heroes embody their identity and reflect their culture.
Because their world was difficult and dangerous, every hero needed defensive strengths. This book analyzes seven iconic heroes and compares each champion to a walled town or castle, hardened against an outer threat. These defenses are the mortal walls of their identity—their strengths against the world, as well as their dealings within it—and are exemplified in their actions as warriors, distinct rhetoric, complex relationships with women, and devotion to the divine. By delving into some of early narrative’s most renowned heroes, the book reveals the pieces of their inner selves that even they cannot keep outside the walls but must finally accept with firm humility.

About the Author(s)

William F. Woods is the M.V. Hughes Professor of English, emeritus, at Wichita State University in Wichita, Kansas. He lives in Wichita.

Bibliographic Details

William F. Woods
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2023
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8623-3
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5174-3
Imprint: McFarland