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The Volcano Lover: A Romance [Paperback]

Susan Sontag
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 Jun 1993
Based on the lives of Sir William Hamilton, his celebrated wife, Emma, and Lord Nelson, this novel is about sex and revolution, the fate of nature, art and the collector's obsession, and love. The author also wrote "The Benefactor", "Death Kit", "AIDS and its Metaphors" and "The Way We Live Now".

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (17 Jun 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099223813
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099223818
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 903,871 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'A panoramic, passionately feminist examination of the changing shape of Western civilisation since the Age of Enlightenment. Sontag's book is a sweeping, exquisitely detailed picture of Europe in the final decades of the eighteenth century.' Chicago Sun-Times 'The Volcano Lover seems a novel Susan Sontag was destined to write, a shift from the moral intelligence of the essayist to the intelligent heart of the novelist.' The Nation --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Susan Sontag is the author of two novels, The Benefactor and Death Kit, a volume of stories, I, etcetera, and several colections of essays, inlcuding the prize-winning On Photography. Her most recent books are AIDS and it Metaphors and The Way We Live Now. In 1990 she received a five-year fellowship from the Macarthur Foundation. She lives in New York City. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love and Duty at the Court of King Ferdinand 19 May 2005
The Volcano Lover is Sir William Hamilton, English Ambassador at the Court of Naples from1764-1800. Some years after his first wife has died, he accepts the role of protector of his nephew's discarded mistress, Emma, but becomes her lover and finally her husband. Nelson appears about halfway through the novel and, not without irony, is referred to as "the hero" thereafter. As with Goethe who has a walk on part earlier in the tale, the fact of his greatness is deftly indicated without much psychologising, which leaves room for the imagination of the reader. The gradual adjustment to the now notorious menage a trois is convincingly described, and although the author criticises them for their connivance in the hundreds of executions following the suppression of the Republican uprising in Naples, her portraits of them are by no means wholly unsympathetic.
From time to time the 20th century authorial voice, rises above the narrative to reflect on human foibles, the status of women, and social injustice but without impeding the forward impetus of the story. There are witty digressions on Don Giovanni and Tosca, and after a dying monologue from Sir William, there are posthumous utterances by Emma Hamilton and her mother, and by Eleonora Pimental, executed in 1799 by tht King's party. This Republican has the final words and their power and integrity end the book with a thunderclap.
There is humour,pathos,wit and passion in this wonderfully readable and unfailingly intelligent book. A tour de force.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Volcano Lover - Susan Sontag 12 May 2013
By RachelWalker TOP 500 REVIEWER
Dramatic, romantic, exciting. Rich, detailed. This is an incredible portrait of Neopolitan and Italian life in the late 1700s. It has everything: political intrigue, war, romance. Vesuvius looms large in the background, and the cavaliers fascinating with it is wonderful, as are his musings on the nature of collection. This book has pretty much everything. It has fascinating characters, it's supremely intelligent, it has a great story, it is packed with glorious esoterica. It's a wonderful experienced to be so immersed in history in the fashion this book immerses you. I would recommend it incredibly highly - philosophical, packed with incident, moving, etc etc etc.
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5.0 out of 5 stars LEARN AND ENJOY 16 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent historic novel, full of insights on vulcano passion and collectors world. Wanderfully threaded set of characters.
The author's intimidating intelligence and narrative mastery pervades the entire text, transforming its reading into an extremelly enjoyable learning and literary experience
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