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Epigonism and the Dynamic of Culture


Editors:  Berger S., Zwiep I.E.

Year: 2008
ISBN: 978-90-429-2032-3
Pages: VI-295 p.
Price: 67 EURO

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The articles collected in this volume were originally presented at a summer colloquium in Oxford in 2004. The 'epigone' is generally believed to be an imitator, deprived of an independent, original talent. He necessarily follows in someone else's footsteps, a source of inspiration that can (or indeed must) be identified. The epigone can operate only after a certain span of time, during which he has studied his example and learned how to follow in his master's footsteps. An epigone is always influenced - be it consciously or unconsciously - by another person, or by the surrounding cultural climate. The epigone is, per definition, second rate. Furthermore, it is believed that the epigonic product cannot have an independent value. Its only value lies in demonstrating a condition in culture, a spirit of the area, a trend in the arts, philosophy or any other human occupation. Rather than continuing to view epigonism as a natural, if regrettable, part of the cultural process, an inevitable secondary stage within the development of any corpus, the essays in this volume approach the phenomenon from a perspective that is at once more neutral and more positive. They do so not by rehabilitating the quality of the epigone's output, but by redefining his role within the cultural process per se. In each of these contributions, epigones appear as the true carriers of, in this case Jewish, culture. Rather than mere witnesses or, at best, historical mirrors of primary, canonical, cultural codes and modes, they represent one of the dynamic forces within the development of a culture. For the epigone is not merely imitating, but also disseminating. It is not the isolated peaks of the cultural panorama that the articles in this book seek to map out, but the modest planes that allow us to travel the landscape in the first place.

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