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Shop  >>  Books  >>  Fiction (General)

Williams,John/ Mendelsohn,Daniel (INT)

Augustus

Williams John Mendelsohn Daniel (int) Augustus Reissue
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Biographical note:

John Williams (1922-1994) was born and raised in northeast Texas. He published two volumes of poetry and two other novels, Butcher's Crossing and Stoner. In the past year, Stoner has become an international best seller. Both novels are available from NYRB Classics.
 
Daniel Mendelsohn is a translator, critic, memoirist, and classicist. He is the author of the international best seller, The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, and his essay collection Waiting for the Barbarians (NYRB) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the PEN Art of the Essay Award. He teaches at Bard College.

Country of final manufacture:

US

Main description:

Winner of the 1973 National Book Award

In Augustus, the third of his great novels, John Williams took on an entirely new challenge, a historical novel set in classical Rome, exploring the life of the founder of the Roman Empire, whose greatness was matched by his brutality. To tell the story, Williams also turned to a genre, the epistolary novel, that was new to him, transforming and transcending it just as he did the western in Butcher's Crossing and the campus novel in Stoner. Augustus is the final triumph of a writer who has come to be recognized around the world as an American master.
 
"[In Augustus,] John Williams re-creates the Roman Empire from the death of Julius Caesar to the last days of Augustus, the machinations of the court, the Senate, and the people, from the sickly boy to the sickly man who almost dies during expeditions to what would seem to be the ruthless ruler. He uses an epistolary, polylogic format, and in the end all these voices, like a collage, meld together around the main character. Monologue becomes action, but action never becomes character. Instead, an image of brutality questions its own origins. Read it in conjunction with Robert Graves's more flamboyant Claudius and Claudius the God, Hermann Broch's The Death of Virgil, and Marguerite Yourcenar's Memoirs of Hadrian." —Harold Augenbraum, Executive Director of the National Book Foundation

Review quote:

"Augustus is a masterpiece." -Los Angeles Times

"One is drawn deeply into a world whose complexity, luxury, political cynicism, public gullibility, and violence seem very much like our own." -The New Yorker

"Williams has immersed himself in ancient history, its figures, its conflicts, its complicated intrigues and its often primitive turmoil. In his vivid panorama, The Golden Age sparkles with an eloquence, at times, approaching the poetic." -The Plain Dealer

"Out of the events surrounding one of the pivotal moments in Western history . . . John Williams has fashioned an always engaging, psychologically convincing work of fiction." -The New York Times

"Augustus is a vividly imagined re-creation of classical Rome, but its intuitive grasp of the experience of immense power makes it an unusual, and superior, novel." -The Boston Globe

"Novel or history, this is an excellent book. . . . a superior work of the imagination." -Playboy

"It would be easy to over-praise this novel; but there does not seem any adequate reason why this temptation should be resisted, especially as Mr. Williams in his turn resists the obvious one of allowing irony too prominent a part in the proceedings." -The Economist

"A pleasure to read. . . . A most polished performance." -Boston Herald Traveler

"Strong and striking. . . . Intelligent and intuitive, this excellent historical novel makes the world of Ancient Rome a place in which we feel instantly at home." -Publishers Weekly

"A novel of extraordinary range, yet of extraordinary minuteness, that manages never to sacrifice one quality for the other." -The Financial Times

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