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Salammbo (Classics) [Paperback]

Gustave Flaubert , A. Krailsheimer
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

28 April 1977 Classics
An epic story of lust, cruelty, and sensuality, this historical novel is set in Carthage in the days following the First Punic War with Rome.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (28 April 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140443282
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140443288
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 437,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Inside Flap

An epic story combining lust, cruelty, riches, ritual and sensuality, few French historical novels can stand comparison with Salammbo.

Immediately after the protracted and crippling First Punic War with Rome, the Carthaginian army under Hamilcar was obliged to contend with a revolt by its unpaid mercenaries--an anarchic barbarian horde of mixed race--led by the Libyan Matho. It is a story of the most appalling savagery which Flaubert was anxious to render in spirit and in detail. His invention of the exotic and chilling Salammbo, priestess in the temple of the Goddess Tanit, and her obsessive relationship with Matho, lends dramatic unity to a tale of epic grandeur in which Flaubert gave full rein to his love of the gorgeous, the voluptuous and the bizarre.

For more titles in the Penguin Classics range, visit's Penguin Classics Bookstore.

About the Author

Gustave Flaubert was born in Rouen in 1821. After illness interrupted a career in law, he retired to live with his widowed mother and devote himself to writing. He achieved limited success in his own lifetime, but his fame and reputation grew steadily after his death in 1880.

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It was at Megara, a suburb of Carthage, in Hamilcar's gardens. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Most Enjoyable! 21 April 2010
Before reading this novel, you should be aware that it is absolutely nothing like Madame Bovary. While Flaubert's most famous work is known on both sides of the Channel, Salammbo has ostensibly been ignored in England; our Gallic counterparts, however, have embraced this book and it has been turned into plays, operas, films and even comic books. To see this evinced, one simply has to look at the number of reviews of each title posted on Amazon: Salammbo has two whereas Madame Bovary has over twenty for each edition. I for one think that more people should give Salammbo a try as it is a fantastic book.
The story is a departure from the romantic realism of his other novels as the narration is more evocative of Homer's battle sequences from The Iliad and abounds with descriptions of the epic heros of old. The plot is also quite exciting telling the story of a barbarian's love for a virginal princess and Hamilcar's attempts to maintain his authority over Carthage amidst the historic mercenaries revolt. The characters are interesting and are, for the most part, three dimensional; importantly, they consist of a combination of historic and fictional personalities which enables Flaubert to mould the story to his liking while retaining an element of the history.

All in all, this is a great yarn spun by a consumate story teller.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the curse of the sacred veil... 4 Nov 2008
By bohobozo VINE VOICE
An absolute blood-fest.
A tale of desire, lust, love and fury.
It's a novel on a grand scale, panoramic - an epic.
Tracing a story of blind unfulfilled love through a period of insurrection set in the fading glory of a once powerful city state, the plot fairly rips along.
Featuring huge sweeping battle scenes and bloody massacres - illustrated with descriptions of barbaric cruelty, canibalism and littered with gratuitous violence.
It's primitive, full of symbolism, savagery and blood-lust.
The main protagonist, Matho, a brute of a man - a leader of men, is driven to the verge of insanity whilst obsessively seeking to fulfil his lust and desire for the pure beauty of Salammbo - a vestal virgin, an innocent and a priestess.
All is here - loves confusion, corruption of power, the sweetness of victory, the bitterness of defeat, barbaric revenge and the tragic fulfilment of a prophesy - the curse of the sacred veil.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Carthage 21 April 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Although this book is called Salammbo, she doesn't appear in it that much, and her story is just an incidental sideline to the main story. If you have read Flaubert before you will find this book somewhat different. If you like a bog standard historical novel you may find this tale a bit too exotic.

Salammbo is set in the second century BC. Carthage won't pay its mercenaries after the Punic Wars, and thus starts the Mercenary War. What this book shows is the horrors of war, and man's inhumanity to man. Prisoners of war are crucified or trampled underfoot by elephants amongst other indignities. Carthage is under siege at one stage and the inhabitants practice human sacrifice to appease the gods. The mercenaries that see this look on in shocked dismay, only for some of them to later carry out cannibalism.

This book is bloody and gory, and the story will keep you absorbed. It would make an excellent movie, but once again it won't be a book for everyones tastes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A story about the Mercenary War 16 Aug 2013
Gustave Flaubert's novel, 'Salammbo', was first published in 1862, five years after the publication of his debut novel, 'Madame Bovary'. Whereas 'Madame Bovary' is a novel about what was then contemporary life in Normandy, 'Salammbo' is a historical novel set during the time of the Mercenary War. This conflict took place between 240 and 237 BC, shortly after the conclusion of the First Punic War, when the Carthaginians had to deal with an uprising of their own mercenaries.

This novel is a fictionalised account of the conflict. The story is mainly based on the account of the war written by Polybius, although Flaubert is said to have consulted over two hundred books when he was researching his novel, and he went on a special expedition to North Africa to visit the sites mentioned in his book. The characters include genuine historical figures, such as Hamilcar, the Carthaginian general, along with fictional characters, such as Salammbo herself. The style of the writing is similar to that of 'Herodias' in Flaubert's 'Three Tales' (1877), but quite different from that of his more famous works such as 'Sentimental Education' (1869). The book is a consistently interesting account of a little known episode in ancient history, which fully brings to life the savagery of ancient warfare.
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