KULLMANN, W. und M. REICHEL (eds.),
Der Übergang von der Mündlichkeit zur Literatur bei den Griechen.
Gunter Narr, Tübingen, 1990. 346p. Hardback. Series: Scriptoralia. (Rare). 'This volume publishes the papers from a Freiburg colloquium of 1989, and is one of an important new series of monographs and symposia on modern and ancient literacy and orality. The volume has an impressive range, and is divided up into sections on Homer, archaic poetry and a smaller group of late 5th- to 4th- century prose works (medicine, rhetoric, philosophy). Is overall aim is to examine the development and growth of Greek 'Schriftkultur', in particular texts which can be seen as in some sense transitional, bridging orality and literacy. (....) Particulary rewarding are those (contributions) which look at the role of writing and orality with sympathy for the wider cultural context of a text and its transmission , and which therefore get away from an over-simple dichotomy between written and oral. Latacz, for instance, surveys the changing function of the symposium in the development of archaic Greek literature. M.L. West's important paper tackles issues which are often evaded in the study of oral poetry, the possibility of dictation and the role of an appreciative audience in the creation of oral poetry; he examines, with enlightening modern comparisons, the role and status of a written text in a society which continued to listen to improving oral poets and in which there could be a mixture of oral transmission, improvisation and written texts (...). Kullmann gives us a valuable analysis of the philosophical and social background to Plato's criticism of writing, concluding convincingly that his hostility was essentially part of an aristocratic élitism directed against an over-populist propagation of knowledge. (...) The volume (...) is a vauable collection of import and and scholarly articles on a range of issues and authors central to debates about Greek literacy and orality, covering a wide chronological range, and bringing some neglected authors (e.g. Alcidamas) into the field of discussion.' (ROSALIND THOMAS in The Classical Review (New Series), 1994, pp.288-89).