“Is all Greek, grief to me” Ancient Greek sophistry and the poetics of Charles Bernstein
Herd, Colin James
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This thesis reads the poetry and poetics of Charles Bernstein in relation to his interest in sophistry and sophistics. Taking his 1987 volume The Sophist as a central text, the influence of a sense of sophistics is developed across his wider range of published works. This involves identifying some of the many different interpretations of the sophists throughout the history of philosophy, from the early dismissals by Plato and Aristotle to the more recent reappraisals of their works. A secondary aspect of the thesis is in examining the renewal of interest in the Ancient Greek sophists and suggesting some of the affinities between contemporary literary theory and poetics and the fragments of the works of the major sophists (primarily Protagoras and Gorgias). Finally, I suggest that The Sophist itself is a valuable and contemporaneous re-examination of sophistic ideas, that in fact goes further than those by academics from within philosophy and rhetoric by virtue of employing the stylistic innovations and linguistic experimentation that was so central to the sophistic approach.