The Oral Epic: From Performance to Interpretation

by Karl Reichl

Routledge 2022

This book focuses on the performance of oral epics and explores the significance of performance features for the interpretation of epic poetry. The leading question of the book is how the socio-cultural context of performance and the various performance elements contribute to the meaning of oral epics. This is a question which not only concerns epics collected from living oral tradition, but which is also of importance for the understanding of the epics of antiquity and the Middle Ages which originated and flourished in an oral milieu. The book is based on fieldwork in the still vibrant oral traditions of the Turkic peoples of Central Asia and Siberia. The discussion combines fieldwork with theory; it is not limited to Turkic epics but branches out into other oral traditions.

Karl Reichl is Professor Emeritus of the University of Bonn (Institute of English, American and Celtic Studies). He has had visiting professorships at Harvard University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris, the University of Madison at Wisconsin, and the Karakalpak State University in Nukus. His main research interests lie in medieval oral literature and in contemporary (or near-contemporary) oral epic poetry, especially in the Turkic-speaking areas of Central Asia.

For the Table of Contents and purchasing information, see the Routledge webpage. Eight video and audio examples discussed in the book can be downloaded from this webpage.