Memoirs of Hadrian Paperback – Jan 1 1963
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Top Customer Reviews
This masterpiece creates a living human being, one who transmits greatness, intelligence, cultivation, sensitivity and unique statesmanship abilities (not so common these days). Hadrian is, of course, a man with a big ego (how to be Emperor of Rome and not have one?), yet he is anything but vain or naïve about himself. He does not swallow the tale about emperors' divinity: he knows himself to be mortal, vulnerable and his religiosity is vague and sober. He learns to know Man. He abhors the Coloseum carnages, but shows up because he understands their role in alleviating the people's lives.Read more ›
At the end of his life, looking back through his memoir as imagined by Marguerite Yourcenar, the emperor doesn't try to create a picture of a man who is flawless. This most thoughtful leader was far from that. But by accepting himself as he was, he had the courage to lead.
Any visitor to Rome feels the soul of the Emperor Hadrian, particularly, I think, in his most remarkable monument, the Pantheon. This is a book all travelers to Rome should read--before and after the visit.
If the reader expects action and description comparable to what one gets from Robert Graves and his Claudius, or from Allen Massie and the first Roman emperors, he is likely to be disappointed. Yourcenar is not at all interested in the details of battles, or in exposition of the characters of other figures in the narrative, or in many vivid descriptions of any kind, so her protagonist's movements from sketchily-described place to sketchily-described place and his dealings with people who are mostly presented as names lack the color and specificity of those other authors. The value of this book is its interpretation of the lucid introspections of the great mind of the great emperor, the timeless truth of his conclusions about empire, government, religion, politics and morals, and its sophisticated use of language.
It can be dry reading at times, but there is far more than enough insight and exposition to well repay the need to wade through the dry, tall grass between oases.
Most recent customer reviews
A truly extraordinary work. This is the English translation from the French of a great life's work by a remarkable writer, sadly too little known today. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Gordon Ritchie
This book is well-written, well-translated, well-informed, and a wellspring of insight into human nature. Read morePublished on June 7 2004 by Sam Bickens
One of the most important skills a student must acquirer when learning history, amongst others, is the ability to evoke a state of empathy for the time period under study. Read morePublished on March 21 2003 by C. Middleton
Seldom do we find a historical novel written with both so much scholarship and passion. Marguerite Yourcenar not only incarnates the soul and spirit of Emperor Hadrian but of his... Read morePublished on Feb. 15 2003 by Esther Nebenzahl
This book contains wonderous and perceptive insights. Yourcenar narrates as though she were Hadrian recalling his passing life. Read morePublished on Oct. 22 2002 by Mark Allen G. Garzon
A panel of 100 writers from 54 countries assembled by Norwegian Book Clubs picked the 100 best works of fiction in existence and this book was on the list so I thought I would read... Read morePublished on July 21 2002 by Schmerguls
Written in the form of a letter, memoir-tutorial to his nephew, the young Marcus Aurelius. Succeeding the stern super-centurion, Trajan, the Emperor comments on a wide variety of... Read morePublished on May 13 2002 by Richard Cunningham