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Senses of an Ending

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‘The Iliad’ Revisited in Peter Carey’s ‘Concerning the Greek Tyrant’

image of Transcultural Studies

It is possible to read Peter Carey’s short story, Concerning the Greek Tyrant, as an adaptation of one of the first grand achievements of the occidental storytelling tradition: The Iliad. When creating one of his “what–if”1 stories from the raw material of the various myths of the Trojan War, Carey turns the Homeric story on its head, simultaneously challenging concepts central to the latest theories of narrative fiction, such as the question of narrative sequence, shifts in the narrative perspective, the representation of temporal experience, and the technique of metanarrative. When uprooting the myth of the Trojan war from the “lost order of time” and making it a story of “the here and now”,2 Carey joins an almost three-thousand-year-long tradition while breaking away from it simultaneously. The paper aims to examine a manifest duality of the textual actions3 in Concerning the Greek Tyrant. Its historical plot4 appears to be a realistic adaptation of a few of the closing events of the war as reconstructed from a variety of sources on the one hand, and a narrative of how Homer suffers from writer’s block on the other. On the linguistic level of narration, however, the text is permeated by irony, a mastertrope (Burke 1945) whose dialectic nature further enhances the aforementioned duality, and helps the various dimensions of the text reflect and comment on each other.

Affiliations: 1: University of Pannonia, Veszprém Hungary,


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