Plutarch's Table Talk: Sampling a Rich Blend
A Survey of Scholarly Appraisal
Work on the Table Talk for its own sake is a fairly recent development in the latter third of the twentieth century. Scholars before that time were interested in looking at the essays as literary imitations or preoccupied with the reality of the dinner parties and their participants. Jones' research contributed a strong, prosopographical foundation for the study of Plutarch, his literary output and his time. Teodorsson continued the descriptive trend in his thorough, directory-style commentary, including an additional focus on authenticity, or literal truth. As more modern interpretive concerns took hold, Harrison analysed Table Talk as a literary work, and tried to explain a lack of structure as a hidden structure. And finally, some current scholarly approaches – Klotz and König are examples – have begun to study the Table Talk in multiple contexts, using a range of analytic techniques, such as considering the audience as “active readers,” or borrowing from new historicism, and positing a new, unbounded unity from the text's rich diversities.
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