Spanning the Crusades, the Indian Raj, and the postwar decline of the British Empire, Homer’s Turk illuminates how English writers of all eras have relied on Greek and Roman literature to help them understand the world once called “the Orient.” Even today, the Classics frame the West’s relationship with the Islamic world, India, and China.
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Homer's Turk: How Classics Shaped Ideas of the EastUser Review - Book Verdict
In this erudite work of survey, synthesis, and analysis, Toner (director of studies in classics, Hughes Hall, Univ. of Cambridge, U.K.) 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 framework provides scholars with tools for analyzing both the texts presented here by the author as well as others in independent study. VERDICT This academic work requires knowledge of British imperial history, both Greek and Roman literature, and a smattering of Latin. For the specialist interested in the use of classics, historiography, or image making, this is an excellent piece of scholarship.—Evan Anderson, Iowa State Univ. Lib., Ames