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What is fame? A name? A face? The it in making it ? In this wide-ranging and ambitious book, Leo Braudy traces the evolving definition of fame from the time of Homer to the present. As Braudy points out, fame is far from just a 20th-century obsession: it has a history, and the twists and turns of that history have determined the terms by which we now understand the phenomenon.
Beginning with the Homeric epics and exploits of Alexander the Great, and proceeding to our current idolatry of media figures, the book explains how the definition of fame depends on the political and social system in which it is found, the culture's concept of what a person is, and, of course, the media available for disseminating images. Over the past 2,500 years, fame has had a variety of meanings: from the Roman commitment to public action and the Christian belief that God is the ultimate audience; to the Renaissance idea of the heroic artist and 19th-century notions of posterity and the avant garde; to the idealization of the king and the view that movie stars are the consummate role models.
Drawing on art, literature, political history, religion, and philosophy, The Frenzy of Renown offers a fascinating parade of personalities--Julius Caesar and Jesus, Charlemagne and Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson and Abraham Lincoln, Adolf Hitler and Marilyn Monroe--all of whom have changed the way everyone appears in the eyes of others.