ISBN is

978-1-57322-986-9 / 9781573229869

The Dream of Scipio

by

Publisher:Riverhead Trade

Edition:Softcover

Language:English

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About the book:

With his admirable craftsmanship and the rich emotional life Iain Pears grants his beautifully drawn characters, he has created a considerable following for his remarkable novels. The Dream of Scipio is a novel of great ambition that simultaneously engages the emotional and intellectual capacities of the reader while always remaining compulsively readable.

Set in Provence at three crucial moments of Western civilisation (the final collapse of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, the Black Death in the 14th century, and the Second World War in the 20th), Pears presents the lives of three men. Manlius Hippomanes is an aristocrat, obsessively concerned with the preservation of Roman civilisation; Olivier de Noyen is a poet; and Julian Barneuve is an intellectual who makes the mistake of joining the corrupt Vichy government. Pears weaves his dazzling and discursive narrative through the troubled lives of each man, the common thread being the classical text which is the books title-- a work of challenging philosophical inquiry. The other common denominator is the love each man has for a remarkable woman.

It is difficult to know where to begin in praising the achievement of this rigorous but infinitely beguiling book. The novel of ideas has been moribund for quite some time, but Pears breathes rude life into the genre with an epic that echoes the achievements of Robert Graves and André Gide. The balance between the key questions of existence and the passionate, life-affirming solidity that the author grants to his characters is impeccable, and all three protagonists are forcefully characterised.

But above all, this is a piece of storytelling that almost redefines the very notion of the art: luminescent entertainment by a master, even more impressive than An Instance of the Fingerpost, the book which first drew attention to Pears highly individual skills.--Barry Forshaw

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