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Book description

The letters in Plautus are potent tools for making and thinking about Plautine comedy inside Plautine comedy. Emilia Barbiero demonstrates that Plautus' embedded letters reify the internal performance and evince its theatricality by means of the epistolary medium's script-like ability to precipitate presence in absence. These missives thus serve as emblems of the dramatic script, and in their onstage composition and recitation they cast a portrait of the plays' textual origins into the plays themselves. But by virtue of their inscription with a premise which is identical to that of the comedies they inhabit, the Plautine letters also reproduce the relationship between the playwright's Greek models and his Latin translations: the mirror effect created by a dramatic text inscribed, read and realized within a dramatic text whose plot it also duplicates generates a mise-en-abyme which ultimately serves to contemplate problems of novelty and literary ownership that beset Plautus' literary endeavor.

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