on 14 February 2014
It is with some trepidation I write a review for a book that is 2000 years old.
I suspect that Seneca's writings will exist far longer than even Amazon will exist!
(Makes me think what will happen to all these reviews? Will historians study them in the year 3000?).
It would be foolish of me to attempt to criticize Seneca or add some analysis that far more qualified readers would be better at writing. So I will confine myself to the extras this edition has and what it was like for a non-classicist to read this book.
The introduction by Tobias Reinhardt was superb. It gave a clear background and insight to Seneca and his work.
I found the section on his literary style particularly revealing.
I think all of Seneca's works can be down loaded for free so an excellent introduction is a necessity to justify paying for the book.
The other extra is the explanatory notes at the back. These were useful, informative and easy to find.
These were great for a reader like myself who has no formal learning in Classics. As for the quality of translation by John Davie I could not comment but the translation was certainly very readable.
As for the process of reading the book it was quite hard work. This is not due to Seneca's style which is very clear and readable.
It is more that he covers big topics that provoke much thought.
After 5 or 10 pages of reading I would be quite tired. As a result the book took weeks for me to finish.
On the occasions I attempted to read it when feeling very tired I soon gave up - nothing was going in!
But I wouldn't want this to put anyone off from reading the book. Despite it being a bit hard work, the work impacted me.
It every so subtly changed how I saw, felt and thought about the world, God, myself, life, death. As I said - all the biggies. This makes it worth the effort.
Finally, if this your first foray into the world of Seneca then the Letters (Letters from a Stoic: Epistulae Morales Ad Lucilium) might be a better place to start. They are amazing but being shorter I found them easier to digest.
on 29 August 2010
This book was written by a Roman Stoic, and an eminent man of his day. I outlines many stoic principles and how the author practices them, but one gets the feeling that he wrote for posterity, and some of his ideas are questionable. It is an easy book to read, though.