- Paperback: 752 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd (3 Jun. 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141181486
- ISBN-13: 978-0141181486
- Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 3 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,041,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Claudius Novels (Penguin Twentieth Century Classics) Paperback – 3 Jun 1999
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Top Customer Reviews
Telling the tale from an insider's perspective, this book tells the story of Claudius' reign as Caesar, his attempts to conquer Britain, his tragic marriage to the perfidious Messalina and his eventual death. In order to survive he plays up his image of the amiable idiot, never quite dangerous enough to be worth killing. But behind the mask was a quick and observant man, fascinated with establishing the truth for his history books.
Robert Graves provides Claudius with a compassionate personality, ill suited to his times. But this makes the narrating voice one with which we have much sympathy, especially when the cruel deceptions practiced by Messalina are revealed. The story is put forward in a clear and compelling fashion. Covering almost 20 years, and with a host of characters, it is epic in scale, yet centres around a very human story of just one man. Graves draws each character well, and provides them with distinctive mannerisms and voices, making each stand out clearly.
This book is a sequel to the equally great `I, Claudius', which details the Claudian family history, and Claudius' life up to being declared emperor.
These are absolute classics of English literature. Erudite, beautifully written, but also enthralling adventure stories that are highly accessible. Highly recommended to all.
Caligula's excesses make particularly entertaining reading, whilst providing modern readers with a stark portrait of what excessive power can lead to.
If you survive the first 150 pages without falling asleep, you're there. This jewel of a book is definitely worth the archaelogical dig!
I have read the classics only in translation, and therefore I can only comment on what I know: there is a style and power to much of the classics that escapes many modern novels. Thousands of years later they are still more alive than much that can be read now, printed only last month. Robert Graves manages to achieve that same feel of directness, simplicity and power of Classical writing, which, in theory, should be so simple, but is actually extremely difficult.He gives us the dust of the Roman Empire, the flickering light of torches lighting marble corridors, and human interactions that decided the destiny of millions.
Written in the 1930s, the books, aside from their great artistic merit, have a profound and deeply moving message about the nature of tyranny and the people who uphold it. There is even a portrait of Caligula which is not entirely without sympathy (and some great comic scenes).
The reader warms to the narrator, Claudius, and the novel's plot is very interesting and at times gripping.
From my reading of Twentieth Century Literature these works along with Graves' other, Count Belisarius, as amongst the very greatest; and an incredible achievement.
Robert Graves intriguing use of the vernacular language and the extensive research, following largely the histories of Suetonius (a gossipy historian) rather than Tacitus (the formal, more official historian), gives a rather racy and juicy insight into the flamboyant lifestyle of the early imperial family, as seen through the eyes primarily of its most unlikely heir, Claudius the stammerer. Claudius escaped much of the political intrigue and was seen as a harmless outsider due to his physical impediments, which helped mask his intellectual capabilities and cunning insight into the actions of others.
Grave's recreation is well-done, but a bit too sympathetic to his hero Claudius. Claudius was not the intellectual saintly character protrayed in theses novels--true, he wasn't nearly as bad as his predecessor Caligula or his successor Nero, but he had shortcomings that are often ignored for lacking the glamour of the evils of the two emperors who bookend his reign.
Graves' use of language is interesting to note. Instead of translating historical scenes into formal, high-academic English (as a classically-trained Oxbridge scholar might be inclined to do), he put things into what Alistair Cook called the everyday language of the English aristocracy, a social class accustomed to the easy exercise of world-domination power, politically and socially.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very pleased with my purchase and it arrived quicklyPublished 3 months ago by Ms. Marilyn J. Guider
Robert Graves recreates the life of the Roman Emperor Claudius, as if Claudius were writing his biography in secret. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Martin Jones
A well written historical work about one of the less well known emperor, at least until this book came out. Historically very accurate and very readable.Published 7 months ago by grenville knowles
I could never sit through I, Claudius on television in the 70's, as there was far too much violence for me. Read morePublished 7 months ago by blossom
The book is extraordinary, but I love it so much, because of Mr Jacobi great interpretation.Published 10 months ago by Piotr Zarzycki