19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Astonishingly successful novel of ideas,
This review is from: The Dream Of Scipio (Paperback)
I can understand entirely why some readers of this have found it difficult, particularly with the weight of expectation created by An Instance of the Fingerpost. But I cannot agree that it's badly constructed, over-written or 'should have been a PhD'.
Fingerpost was a good book, but the Dream of Scipio is something of a different order altogether: this is the most remarkable book I have read in a long time (and I read a lot of books...)
I think what makes it so unusual in contemporary fiction is in fact precisely its construction: this is a novel with much plot, but not as such driven by it (certainly not in the same way that Pears' other fiction is); with beautiful use of language, but not exceptional (lyrical and meditative, yes); with very well developed characters, patiently and humanely presented. All of these could be the engine of a book, but in this case it is a 'suite' of ideas, epitomised by the manuscript of its title - which is why the title is ultimately appropriate, even if a reading of the book suggests otherwise. I can't think of another book so meditative in tone and so patient in its expositions that is at the same time so compelling to read, always drawing you forward.
In the same way that Pears judiciously avoids presenting more than the merest fragments of the Dream manuscript, Olivier de Noyen's poetry and Julien Barneuve's essay alike, the glimpses of these, just as they caught sigh of one another in turn, create a slowly unfurling sense of an extraordinary whole - and make the book deserve to be thought about, thought about again, and above all protected from barbarians, civilised or otherwise.