Am höchsten bewertete positive Rezension
Mediocre in contrast with other's covering the same work
am 20. Mai 1999
For contrast, try Kenneth Rexroth's book "Classics Revisited". Rexroth was "the father of the beatniks" and steeped in a much more humane understanding of the classics. Rexroth's book discusses sixty volumes, most of which also appear in "The Creators". (Examples pro and con: Illiad & Odyssey, Beowolf, Njal's Saga, Job, Mahabarata, Kalevala, Sappho, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Herodotus, Plato, Livy, and so on, through Mark Twain and Chekhov. A second volume contains similar sweep across different authors/works.) And the contrast is astounding, even when Rexroth veers close to Boorstin and says these classic texts are "basic document in the history of the imagination".
A review of Rexroth's book in the Villlage Voice, written three decades ago, says that "The talk is expansive, linking the archaic and the immediate, finding in Euripides 'the first psychedlic system of values, a middle-class substitute for mystical vision,' or noting how in Caesar's _Gallic War_ 'the simple nouns and verbs carom off each other like billiard balls... The rapid and complex movement of simple elements deploys on the page exactly like the battle it describes.'...The books he loved he saw as emanations of living feeling, lines of communication miraculously kept open."
Or, to quote from Rexroth himself: "Life may not be optimistic, but it certainly is comic, and the greatest literature present man wearing the two conventional masks; the grinning and the weeping faces that decorate theatre prosceniums. What is the face behind the mask? Just a human face -- yours or mine. That is the irony of it all -- the irony that distinguishes great literature -- it is all so ordinary."
Without denigrating the non-Western tradition as Boorstin does -- in fact, by including essays about non-Western classics -- and without paying homage via knee jerks, Rexroth succeeds better.