How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics
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How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  43 ratings  ·  8 reviews
In How to Kill a Dragon Calvert Watkins follows the continuum of poetic formulae in Indo-European languages, from Old Hittite to medieval Irish. He uses the comparative method to reconstruct traditional poetic formulae of considerable complexity that stretch as far back as the original common language. Thus, Watkins reveals the antiquity and tenacity of the Indo-European p...more
Paperback, 640 pages
Published May 17th 2001 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 1995)
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K.V. Johansen
I found this a fascinating read. I don't have the background to follow all his arguments, and certainly lack the quantity of languages to do so, thus having to take his discussion of Hittite cognates, for instance, on trust, but all in all it was very thought-provoking. I'd like to go back and read some parts of it again, with a Greek dictionary on hand, when I have time.
For a classicist, interested in literature and mythology, but not specializing in linguistics, it was a difficult and very demanding read. Watkins' work is dense and multi-layered, it required of me a long and careful reading process and a lot of attention, but it was definitely worth it.
This has the most arresting title I've ever seen on a linguistics book. It's well worth the read as the author explicates ancient poetic language, showing how it derives from Proto-Indo-European.
Please see my review at Celtic Scholar
Nov 02, 2008 Alfred rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Alfred by:
An overly academic, for my purposes, analysis of Indo-European storytelling, including the structure and content.
Apr 14, 2012 Ben marked it as to-read
Shelves: melrose-years
Very dense. Not for light reading. May need to come back to it...
Jim Bisso
A masterwork from one of the last of the Indo-European philologists.
This is a masterwork but sometimes for someone only vaguely familiar with metrics quite difficult to get through. I must admit I skipped some chapters (I hate that I wasn't taught Greek!) in order to advance more than 1 or 2 pages per 30 minutes ;-)
Professor Watkins is of course a genius in his field and it is a pity that there doe not exist a Nobel prize in this category.
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The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots The Indo-European Origins of the Celtic Verb Studies in Memory of Warren Cowgill (1929-1985): Papers from the Fourth East Coast Indo-European Conference Cornell University, June 6-9, 1985 Studies In Memory Of Warren Cowgill, 1929 1985: Papers From The Fourth East Coast Indo European Conference, Cornell University, June 6 9, 1985 On Philology

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