The Booktopia Book Guru urges you to read this book...
It is Unforgettable!
In her magnificent novel, Marguerite Yourcenar recreates the life and death of one of the great rulers of the ancient world. The Emperor Hadrian, aware his demise is imminent, writes a long valedictory letter to Marcus Aurelius, his successor.
The Emperor meditates on his past, describing his accession, military triumphs, love of poetry and music, and the philosophy that informed his powerful and far-flung rule.
A work of superbly detailed research and sustained empathy, Memoirs of Hadrian captures the living spirit of the Emperor and of Ancient Rome.
About the Author
Marguerite de Crayencour (1903-88), who went by the inexact anagrammatic pen name 'Marguarite Yourcenar', was a Belgian-born French novelist and essayist, the first woman to be elected to the Academie francaise. Her first novel Alexis was published in 1929; in 1939 she was invited to America by her lover Grace Frick, where she lectured in comparative literature at Sarah Lawrence College in New York. When Memoires d'Hadrien was first published in 1951, it was an immediate success and met with great critical acclaim. If you enjoyed Memoirs of Hadrian, you might like Robert Graves's I, Claudius, also available in Penguin Modern Classics. 'A timeless masterpiece ...every page is informed by her profound scholarship' Paul Bailey, author of Gabriel's Lament 'Yourcenar conjures worlds. She can make us share passion - for beauty, bodies, ideas, even power - and consider it closely at the same time. She is that most extraordinary thing: a sensual thinker' Independent on Sunday
A Taste :
Such liaisons, agreeable enough when the woman were expert in love, became truly moving when these women were beautiful. It was a study of the arts for me; I came to know statues, and to appreciate at close range a Cnidian Venus or a Leda trembling under the weight of the swan. It was the world of Tibullus and Propertius: a melancholy, an ardour somewhat feigned but intoxicating as a melody in the Phrygian mode, kisses on back stairways, scarves floating across a breast, departures at dawn, and wreaths of flowers left on doorsteps.
I knew almost nothing of these women; the part of their lives which they conceded to me was narrowly confined between two half-opened doors; their love, of which they never ceased talking, seemed to me sometimes as light as one of their garlands; it was like a fashionable jewel, or a fragile and costly fillet, and I suspected them of putting on their passion with their necklaces and their rouge. My own life was not less mysterious to them; they hardly desired to know it, preferring to dream vaguely, and mistakenly, about it; I came to understand that the spirit of the game demanded these perpetual disguises, these exaggerated avowals and complaints, this pleasure sometimes simulated and sometimes concealed, these meetings contrived like the figures of a dance. Even in our quarrels they expected a conventional response from me, and the weeping beauty would wring her hands as if on stage.