Making a start

Frank Kermode

  • Openings: Narrative Beginnings from the Epic to the Novel by A.D. Nuttall
    Oxford, 264 pp, £30.00, April 1992, ISBN 0 19 811741 8

A.D. Nuttall is among the most erudite contemporary academic literary critics, at ease with the Classics, much given to philosophy. He is also disconcertingly bold and curious, and his latest book, like some of its predecessors, is as odd as it is learned. It begins, but by no means ends, with a minute enquiry into the expression in medias res. Horace observed that Homer, instead of starting his poem about the Trojan War from the beginning – ab ovo, Leda’s egg from which was hatched Helen of Troy – chose to rush his listeners ‘into the midst of things’, with a quarrel that occurred when the war had been going on for years.

You are not logged in