Originally published in 1949, Gilbert Highet's seminal The Classical Tradition is a herculean feat of comparative literature and a landmark publication in the history of classical reception. As Highet states in the opening lines of his Preface, this book outlines "the chief ways in which Greek and Latin influence has moulded the literatures of western Europe and America. " With that simple statement, Highet takes his reader on a sweeping exploration of the history of western literature. To summarize what he covers is a near-impossible task. Discussions of Ovid and French literature of the Middle Ages and Chaucer's engagement with Virgil and Cicero lead, swiftly, into arguments of Christian versus "pagan " works in the Renaissance, Baroque imitations of Seneca, and the (re)birth of satire. Building momentum through Byron, Tennyson, and the rise of "art of art's sake, " Highet, at last, arrives at his conclusion: the birth and establishment of modernism. Though his humanist style may appear out-of-date in today's postmodernist world, there is a value to ensuring this influential work reaches a new generation, and Highet's light touch and persuasive, engaging voice guarantee the book's usefulness for a contemporary audience. Indeed, the book is free of the jargon-filled style of literary criticism that plagues much of current scholarship. Accompanied by a new foreword by renown critic Harold Bloom, this reissue will enable new readers to appreciate the enormous legacy of classical literature in the canonical works of medieval, Renaissance, and modern Europe and America.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 808
Weight: 832 g
Dimensions: 204 x 135 x 43 mm
"Solidly grounded and solidly built...[Highet] deals with every period, every movement, every individual, and every separate work as an interesting special case for which he tries to find the special explanation."--The New Yorker
"An excellent outline...[an] intelligent, erudite, perceptive interpretation...a book for the times."--The Nation
"It is Highet's appreciate of good literature...which gives a special charm to his book...[It] will be read with gratitude by many."--Times Literary Supplement
"Having reread Gilbert Highet's The Classical Tradition, I am once again under its spell. The book, like Curtius' European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, is a monument to a certain moment of mid-20th-century classicism, deeply humane, fundamentally conservative, committed to putting back together what seemed like the shattered pieces of Western civilization in the wake of Nazi barbarism. It is its vast scope, its capacious overview, that gives it its power."--Stephen Greenblatt, Harvard University
"More than sixty years after Gilbert Highet's book first appeared, it remains the best single guide to the whole afterlife of Greek and Latin literature. The Classical Tradition does full justice to the complexity of this millenial story: Highet shows us both how ancient books shaped later readers, and how medieval and modern writers used classical elements to build their own, distinctive literatures. Learned, epigrammatic, and humanely opinionated, Highet's book is as readable as it is comprehensive."--Anthony Grafton, Princeton University
You may also be interested in...
Please sign in to write a review
Thank you for your reservation
Your order is now being processed and we have sent a confirmation email to you at
When will my order be ready to collect?
Call us on or send us an email at
Unfortunately there has been a problem with your order
Please try again or alternatively you can contact your chosen shop on or send us an email at