Homer's Turk: How Classics Shaped Ideas of the East


Product Details

Harvard University Press
Publish Date
5.86 X 8.34 X 1.05 inches | 1.13 pounds

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About the Author

Jerry Toner is a Fellow in Classics at Cambridge University


An eminently readable, well documented, and informative book.--Dimitri Gutas, Yale University
In this stimulating study, Jerry Toner guides us through an extensive body of English political works, historiography, and travel literature dating from medieval times through to the present that draw upon classical Greek and Roman authors to create images of Islam and the East.--Richard Hingley, Durham University
This is an engaging, timely study of an important and challenging subject.--C. E. Bene"Choice" (10/01/2013)
Toner is a passionate and illuminating guide on the fascinating subject of how the classics has for centuries molded our perceptions of the East and continues to do so today.--Madeline Miller, author of The Song of Achilles
Expertly traces how the Greek and Roman classics were used in constructing images of the East...This brisk and intelligent study shows the extent to which the classics created many of the presumptions (and prejudices) of the modern political world.-- (02/23/2013)
In this erudite work of survey, synthesis, and analysis, Toner examines the ways in which English historians and travel writers used the classics as a scaffold for understanding and constructing images of the East through allusion and analogy. His scope is both broad and deep, exploring English notions of Islam, Arabs, and Turks, from the first forays into the Orient through the decline of British imperial might in the postwar period. The real strength of this work is the framework Toner establishes, arguing the flexibility of the classics, and their utility as a mechanism for British social cohesion and as a tool to separate Britain from the East...This is an excellent piece of scholarship.-- (01/01/2013)
[Homer's Turk] gently chips away at modern scholarship about Western writing about the Orient...The merit of Toner's book lies in disabusing ideas generated by 'Orientalism.' Homer's Turk explores the world of early Western travel writing and observations about the Middle East and India. The question he tries to answer is how Europeans, who lacked any frame of reference except ancient Greece and Rome, tried to represent the East to their readers. This was a simple enterprise of making sense of a different world. A reading of the book makes clear that links between power and knowledge were more imagined than real. In this, he is among a new generation of writers who have taken a skeptical look at the issue...A splendid effort.-- (03/31/2013)
The work makes a useful addition to understanding Western ideology.--Publishers Weekly (12/13/2012)
Writing for a general readership, [Toner] covers in an accessible style a great deal of material from the Byzantine age to the present day, showing numerous ways in which allusions to classical authors have been used to express western (and particularly English) ideas of the East.
-- (07/01/2013)
Toner's thesis is both convincing and important. Greek and Roman literature did crucially shape subsequent Western perceptions of the Orient and, in doing so, was only slightly less important than biblical references and Christian theological preoccupations.-- (11/01/2013)