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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pellucid masterpiece
This is one of the best historical novels around. I've read it both in the French and in the English translation by Grace Frick. The English translation really does convey the flavour of Yourcenar's measured prose. It helps that Grace was a very close friend of Yourcenar. I've also studied this period and Yourcenar was obviously steeped in the sources - just how far...
Published on 8 May 2004 by P. Illing

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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow, meditative and sad
I really wanted to like this book but while I found it well-written with a lingering, contemplative beauty, it was ultimately a little too self-interested and, dare I say, self-indulgent for me. Yourcenar's Hadrian is definitely her own creation and one which reflects herself, I would guess, rather than the second-century Roman emperor.

The blurb describes this...
Published on 9 Jun. 2010 by Roman Clodia


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Suggestion for future edition, 31 Oct. 2010
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This review is from: Memoirs of Hadrian: And Reflections on the Composition of Memoirs of Hadrian (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
A superb book, the outcome of a lifetime's work and reflection, and I don't intend to add anything to the other 5-star reviews here. But just in case publishers read Amazon reviews, I would make a plea for a map of the ancient world, with ancient names, to accompany the text please!
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yes, it is a masterpiece!, 14 Dec. 2001
This review is from: Memoirs of Hadrian: And Reflections on the Composition of Memoirs of Hadrian (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Of course we have seen the phrase "masterpiece" used over and over. And, the phrase has become over-used. This book; however, does remind us what the phrase actually means. Through a very subtle narrative a portion of the history of an empire is described, covering everything from petty, personal intrigue, to matters of running a state, to military campaigns in far-off land.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful., 26 Oct. 2013
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This review is from: Memoirs of Hadrian: And Reflections on the Composition of Memoirs of Hadrian (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
The eerie prescience of that sublime line, "I begin to discern the profile of my death" hooked me into this astonishing book. A complete one-off masterpiece. Hadrian brought to life: sceptical, strong, passionate, practical, disciplined, wise, melancholy... (I wonder what he would have thought of both the indulgent torpor and hysterical fanaticism of our age)
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Classic Hadrian novel, 26 Aug. 2014
This review is from: Memoirs of Hadrian: And Reflections on the Composition of Memoirs of Hadrian (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This the great classic novel about Hadrian - none other has ever come close to emulating Yourcenar's brilliance and attention to detail. She inspired me to find my own adventure with Hadrian and his lover Antinous. After years of research I have finally published my own novel charting their romance called The Love God by Martin Campbell
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5.0 out of 5 stars a book that almost demands to be re-read, 3 July 2013
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This review is from: Memoirs of Hadrian: And Reflections on the Composition of Memoirs of Hadrian (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I had read this book many years ago and I remember it as very, very good. I bought it again now, in English, having read it in Greek first time round. I cannot give any more details at this stage, but I remember it as a moving account of a powerful man, looking back on his life and its accomplishments-or not.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a story!, 5 Jun. 2009
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j (glasgow, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Memoirs of Hadrian: And Reflections on the Composition of Memoirs of Hadrian (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I have read this book a couple of times now and I love it. (It has even been purchased for gifts). Well (very well) researched, well written pretty inspirational and even amusing. I heard it reveiwed on Radio 4 and they rated it highly. I concur.
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Slow, meditative and sad, 9 Jun. 2010
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Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Memoirs of Hadrian: And Reflections on the Composition of Memoirs of Hadrian (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I really wanted to like this book but while I found it well-written with a lingering, contemplative beauty, it was ultimately a little too self-interested and, dare I say, self-indulgent for me. Yourcenar's Hadrian is definitely her own creation and one which reflects herself, I would guess, rather than the second-century Roman emperor.

The blurb describes this as `part historical novel and part general reflection about life' - I would say it's almost wholly the latter, with hardly any of the former at all. Other reviewers have praised Yourcenar's historical evocation but I'm afraid I'm not one of them. I admit I'm far from being an expert on the second century CE, but the sense of `Romanness' feels very unconvincing to me.

Structured as a long valedictory letter to Marcus Aurelius, this is a book which only takes place within Hadrian's own mind, so there is little drama, no scenes, no speeches, no other voices other than Hadrian's own.

The Antinous episode, in particular, suffers from a melancholy, romantic flavouring that is very nineteenth-century (in a Goethe's Werther mode) rather than anything more robustly Roman.

So overall this is a strange book, definitely worth reading as an intelligent meditation on the `human condition', but which I found very unsatisfactory as a novel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 20 Jan. 2014
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This review is from: Memoirs of Hadrian: And Reflections on the Composition of Memoirs of Hadrian (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Easily the best value, it arrived promptly and It was as good as I hoped it would be. Thank you
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 10 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Memoirs of Hadrian: And Reflections on the Composition of Memoirs of Hadrian (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Excellent edition and translation. Ranks along with Graves' Claudius' classic novels.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars between paganism and christianity, 9 July 2011
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rob crawford "Rob Crawford" (Balmette Talloires, France) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Memoirs of Hadrian: And Reflections on the Composition of Memoirs of Hadrian (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This is one of the most brilliant historical novels ever written and you can tell that it is a labor of love. Yourcenar chose Hadrian because he was a great leader that pre-dated Christianity (as a state religion in the form it took in 4C), whose mentality is so alien to our own, and spent decades researching and struggling to express her insights in the proper form. With him, you survey the Roman Empire in its multiple facets, from the excesses of its newly rich to the bloody revolt of the Jews that led to the destruction of Jerusalem. I read it in French and found her prose flawless, clear, and evocative. Read it before visiting to Rome!
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