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Spartacus (Polyg9on Lewis Grassic Gibbon) Paperback – 4 Aug 2005

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Polygon An Imprint of Birlinn Limited (4 Aug. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904598560
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904598565
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 12.1 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 838,538 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

A vivid story, packed with the wild hopes, the doomed dreams, the cruelty and licentiousness of the time. --Evening Standard

It would be impossible to overestimate Lewis Grassic Gibbon's importance . . . A Scot's Quair is a landmark work; it permeates the Scottish literary consciousness and colours all subsequent writing of its kind. --David Kerr Cameron

From the Publisher

Gibbon's knowledge is impressive, and the book is wonderful to read as fiction, as adventure, and as a history of people in the grip of exploitation and oppression. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 8 May 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I bought this I was under the mistaken impression that it was the novel upon which the Stanley Kubrick film of the same name was based; it isn't - that was Howard Fast's 1950s version of the story, which I have not (yet) read. But I would be very surprised if it is anywhere as good as this.

This is simply a superb piece of writing that takes the reader right back to the Italy of 73 BC. Other reviewers have remarked on the unusual prose style, and I agree. It very much reads as though it was translated from Latin - it wasn't, but Gibbon/Mitchell will certainly have read the classics and it shows.

Interestingly, there is no gladiatoral combat here - the story takes up where Spartacus and his followers are already in the field in southern Italy, with the breakout from the camp at Capua alluded to only in flashback. And the tale from there on is INCREDIBLY violent; I can't believe it wasn't controversial in 1933 - not the sort of thing you'd have allowed children to read.

But read it, it's a fabulous book.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Feb. 1999
Format: Paperback
I have just finished this book. I found myself crushed by it, elated, horrified and overjoyed. The style of prose is elegiac and truly phenomenal. A true story of sacrifice, valour, loss and betrayal, of hope, 100 years even before the birth of Christ. A wonderful read.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By P J McCracken on 27 Sept. 2002
Format: Paperback
This book really got to me ...It is about reconciling war and violence and brutality with its causes. A terrifying examination of human nature - albeit with the historical events somewhat manipulated to make the authors point. I don't generally subscribe to the Marxist viewpoint but that didn't take away from the power of the writing or the implications of the story. The time of its writing was pre-WWII with the figure of Nazi germany loomong over Europe. A great, thought provoking read, that stays with you for weeks afterwards.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kenneth F. Mcara VINE VOICE on 14 July 2011
Format: Paperback
It is really interesting to read a variation on the tale which eventually was filmed as Spartacus [Blu-ray] by Stanley Kubrick, based on the later novel Spartacus by Howard Fast. This book was written by James Leslie Mitchell who was better known for his works published under the pen-name Lewis Grassic Gibbon. It is firmly based on historical documents of the time, although Gibbon/Mitchell takes some artistic licence as the foreword makes clear.

The style is almost that of a detached observer, and characterisation is kept to a minimum. This is perhaps appropriate for a legendary figure such as Spartacus, allowing us to create a picture in our own heads. It did not take long for the association of Kirk Douglas' face to disappear as I read further into the book. It is hard to imagine him speaking the dialogue given to Spartacus here. Conversely, I was hearing Laurence Olivier in my head as Marcus Licinius Crassus when reading Robert Harris' fine novels Imperium and Lustrum - perhaps he had this characterisation in his head as he wrote. The events of the Harris novels follow directly on from the tale of the slave revolt as described here.

Gibbon/Mitchell also gives us a very clear idea of the brutality of the times and the author does not shrink from giving us detailed descriptions of killings, crucifixions and other violent incidents. It is not a book for the faint-hearted, or those put off by a somewhat archaic writing style, but is well worth the effort of tracking down and reading.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Justice Peace on 28 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
Looks like this one has been re-issued under the author's better known nom de plume. I read it 15 years ago and it was my favourite novel for many many years. It is beautifully written, and the author was of course a scholar of the classics and it shows in this little masterpiece! Only Mann's Death in Venice and Waugh's Brideshead Revisited impressed me as greatly as Mitchell's 'Spartacus'! A fantastic version of the famous slaves' revolt against the might of the Roman Empire! Mitchell is arguably Aberdeen's greatest son! Viri et Animo! JP :)
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