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The Hagiographer’s Craft: Narrators and Focalisation in Byzantine Hagiography

Alwis, Anne P. (2020) The Hagiographer’s Craft: Narrators and Focalisation in Byzantine Hagiography. In: Gray, Christa and Corke-Webster, James, eds. The Hagiographical Experiment: Developing Discourses of Sainthood. Vigiliae Christianae Supplements . Brill, Leiden, pp. 300-332. ISBN 978-90-04-42133-2. E-ISBN 978-90-04-42132-5. (Access to this publication is currently restricted. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:70342)

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This article redefines the craft of Byzantine hagiographers by using the narratological tools of voice and focalisation. Its appearance is timely as sustained discussions on narratology in Byzantine texts and images are just beginning. Part I examines the metaphrasis of Tatiana of Rome (BHG 1699b), an adapted martyrdom, to show how its reviser becomes an author by constantly appending his own evaluative judgments on his characters and by adding psychological emphasis. By using the idea of ‘voice’ and the concept of focalisation, our understanding of this rhetorical mainstay is expanded and its ‘literary’ aspects are demonstrated as well. I further contend that a sophisticated literary structure can be incorporated into the understanding of this antecedent by dividing ‘style’ and ‘literary technique’. In Part II, I provide a new approach to reading the famed 'vita' of Mary of Egypt, which is reconceptualised using the same narratological tools to demonstrate that in this particular iteration of the story, the author’s concern lies with one of hagiography’s central issues: the tentative balance between fiction and reality. Ultimately, the explorations of the metaphrasis of Tatiana and the 'vita' of Mary of Egypt clearly illustrate that both authors wished to move their audiences, to tell them what to think and how to feel; in effect, the hagiographer’s craft enabled a rhetoric of sanctity.

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: Byzantium, hagiography, rewriting, metaphrasis, narratology, voice, focalisation, fiction, audience, authorship, Classical and Archaeological Studies
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
D History General and Old World > DG Italy
P Language and Literature > PA Classical philology
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN80 Criticism
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Anne Alwis
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2018 11:41 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2021 13:59 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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