This is a study of mock-epic poetry in English, French, and German from the 1720s to the 1840s. While mock-heroic poetry is a parodistic counterpart to serious epic, mock-epic poetry starts by parodying epic but moves on to much wider and richer literary explorations; it relies heavily on intertextual allusion to other works, on narratorial irony, on the sympathetic and sometimes libertine presentation of sexual relatons, and on a range of satirical devices. It includes well-known texts (Pope's Dunciad, Byron's Don Juan, Heine's Atta Troll) and others which are little known (Ratschky's Melchior Striregel, Parny's La Guerre des Dieux). It owes a marked debt to Italian romance epic (especially Ariosto). The study places these texts in the literary context of the decline of serious epic, which helped mock epic to flourish, and of the 'Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes' which questioned the authority of Homer's and Virgil's epics; and it relates their substance to contemporary debates about questions of religion and gender.
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About the Author
Ritchie Robertson was born in Nairn, Scotland. He studied at Edinburgh University and Oxford University; held posts at Lincoln College, Oxford (1979-84) and Downing College, Cambridge (1984-89) before being appointed to his present post as Fellow and Tutor in German at St John's College, Oxford, in 1989. He is co-editor of the yearbook Austrian Studies (1990-99), and has been Germanic editor of the Modern Language Review since 2000. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2004.