Part one looks in detail on the oral-formulaic form of composition and performance, where the line between these two is blurry at best, but may be better described as non-existent. The book discusses the formulaic building blocks of the poetry, as well as themes and other building blocks of content and plot. Lord's attention to detail is astounding, and the breadth of his analysis is incredible.
Part two looks at applying this to Homeric and medieval epic. In addition to an in depth review of the Iliad and the Odyssey, we see notes on the Song of Roland, Beowulf, and others.
I did notice a couple logical errors in the book but none worth deducting any stars. For example, Lord suggests that the references to other stories in the Odyssey are unusual in oral-formulaic poetry, but his only comparison here are contemporary Yugoslav traditions. When we look at other works (including Beowulf) we indeed see large numbers of references to other stories. Moreover, Calvert Watkins (How to Kill a Dragon: Aspects of Indo-European Poetics) shows indexical purposes for such references throughout early Indo-European poetry in general. However, these issues are minor. No author can be right all the time and we shouldn't expect it.
What is important is that Lord provides tremendous insight into this topic. Highly recommended.
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