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Dag Norberg's analysis and interpretation of medieval Latin versification, which was published in French in 1958 and remains the standard work on the subject, appears in English with a detailed, scholarly introduction by Jan Ziolkowski that reviews developments since its initial publication. Norberg examines various themes of medieval Latin metrics and proposes his own empirical solutions. His interpretation attempts to bring much-needed clarification to a controversial and misunderstood subject. In the first four chapters of the book, Norberg analyses the sometimes perplexing technical elements of medieval Latin metrics: prosody; accentuation; synaeresis; diaresis; prosthesis; elision; acrostics; assonance; rhyme; and alliteration. He then turns to some of the metrical devices of the poetry: acrostics and carmina figurata (shaped songs). Two chapters unravel the problems of quantitative and rhythmic verses. Two chapters are devoted to the fractious disputes among scholars over rhythmic verses, which are based on the stress accents of the words. Norberg evaluates the various theories and judiciously examines this area of Latin scholarship.
The final two chapters discuss the relationship between music and poetry, considering such questions as, which was written first, the melody or the words? How can we tell? What is the origin of rhythmic poetry? Beginning with the earliest hymns of Augustine and Ambrose, he considers syllabic melodies and then the development of non-syllabic melodies. In the last chapter Norberg deals with the "poetry in liturgical prose" of the Christian religious service, a "poetry" borrowed from the Bible or based on biblical models.
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- ID: 9780813213361
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