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Jan Jansen, Henk M. J. Maier (eds.)
Heroic Narrative in the Oral Performance Traditions of Four Continents
The adventures of the `epic' in modern times are a fascinating topic in themselves. The Romantics claimed that every self-respecting nation should once upon a time have had one, and they set out to reconstruct these epics for political as well as cultural reasons. These epics represented earlier stages in the development of nation-states and in this modern world they were, for a long time, hard to appreciate. The introduction of taperecorders, however, brought the epic back in the lime-light, with a vengeance. It became fashionable for scholars to record long oral narratives, and to present them as long written poems that reflected deeply ingrained ideas. In this process, the idea of the epic was revitalized. This volume presents critical analyses - of epics in Sub-Saharan Africa, the former Soviet Union, South-East Asia, Medieval Europe, and America - about this process of revitalization, sometimes even invention, of epics in particular historical, political and academic contexts.