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CHARLES FRAZIER HAS CAREFULLY SITUATED HIS NOVEL ABOUT AN American Civil War deserter within Greek and Latin classical literary traditions. Since its publication, Cold Mountain has all but universally been hailed as an “odyssey” by readers, critics, and scholars, in recognition of its structure as an adventure-laden homeward journey, with the end goal of reuniting two lovers; it is rich with Homeric allusions (even to the point of quotation) and typologies of both character and scene (Chitwood; McDermott, “Frazier Polymêtis.”; Vandiver). In the first chapter, the author further introduces two fragments of the pre-Socratic philosopher, Heraclitus (18), a thinker whose “challenge to mankind is to learn to understand . . . the discourse of nature” (“Heraclitus” 501); in the course of the novel, reflection back on these fragments will contribute substantially to a thematic assertion that war’s devastations may be healed by return to a life attuned to nature (Chitwood; McDermott, “Frazier Polymêtis” 102-03, 122-23). A recent study (McDermott, “Metal Face”) also demonstrates the author’s indebtedness, in the same thematic context, to the Golden-Age motif originated by Hesiod in his Works and Days and featured as well in Virgil’s Georgics and fourth Eclogue.


Published in Mississippi Quarterly, Winter-Spring 2011, 64.1-2.


Mississippi Quarterly



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