Abstract

Milman Parry recorded detailed interviews with Bosniac singers of oral epic. Based on an analysis of these recordings, this article extends Parry’s comparison of poetic form in Bosniac and Homeric epic to examine the internal aesthetic criteria of these traditions. The comparison hinges on the similarity of the Bosniac notion of kita, which refers to the ornamental, descriptive details of a song, and the Homeric notion of kosmos, which refers to the orderly arrangement of details. These concepts are similar insofar as each involves the negotiation of the relationship between a notional reality in the past and the representation of that reality in epic song. The ways in which both traditions address this relationship point to the importance of concrete imagery for the stability of memory in oral tradition.

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