- Paperback: 442 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 3 edition (13 Aug. 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0192880535
- ISBN-13: 978-0192880536
- Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 3.8 x 21.6 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,011,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
Lord Elgin and the Marbles Paperback – 13 Aug 1998
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a measured, well-founded, wise, witty, and intensely interesting vindication. (TLS)
About the Author
William St. Clair is the author of That Greece Might Still be Free, awarded the Heinemann prize by the Royal Society of Literature. He is also a leading scholar of Byron and Shelley and was awarded the Time Life prize and Macmillan silver pen for his The Godwins and the Shelleys in 1989. He is a contributor to the Financial Times, TLS and other journals, and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I remember watching a documentary a couple of years ago in which some academics and pseudo-intellectuals expressed their views about the proposed return of these marbles. One rather ignorant woman (without any substantial evidence) tried to argue that the marbles should remain in the British Museum since if they returned to Greece the Greek state would not look after them properly. Her spiteful remarks were a slight on Greece and not just on the practical problem of the 'nephos' or pollution that enshrouds Athens.
I was impressed to read that St. Clair does not try to hide the real evidence. He is prepared to uncover every detail. We learn that far from protecting the marbles, the caretakers in the British Museum also damaged them irreparably by applying caustic bleaches to clean them - the greatest act of vandalism which the marble friezes suffered since they were chipped off carelessly by the vandal Elgin himself.
Perhaps there is ONLY one positive argument that could be recognised for the initial transportation of the marbles to Btitain. Inadvertantly, when these beautiful pieces were exhibited, they did serve to inspire an interest in and love for Greece. By extension, their exhibition in London brought attention to the contemporary problems of Greece; and this indirectly also served to muster support for Lord Byron and other philhellenes who joined the Greek struggle against the Turks.
Were the British government to honour 'promises' to have the marbles returned, then without doubt the marbles would be once again safe and protected. It is unlikely that they would be replaced in their pristine position, exposed to the elements and pollution - but housed in the museum located within the Acropolis. However, the question of their return does not depend on whether Greece can prove whether she can look after them. This question should not arise since they belong to Greece and the British Museum is thus holding property that has been stolen from the Greek state. Perhaps the British Museum is really worried that their return might be a precedent for other countries like Egypt etc. to demand what is rightfully theirs.
I highly recommend this book, for anyone having an interest on the subject. In 1998 it was selling for $16.50, its current hefty price been a testament to its attributes.
The book renders an account of the circumstances of the removal of the marbles from the Parthenon, in the context of the attendant wordily geopolitical events. The journey of the marbles to England, and their subsequent fate are vividly described. References are made to the campaign initiated by Greece upon gaining its independence from the Ottoman Empire, and upon its inception as a new constitutional state, approx. two centuries ago, calling for the return of the marbles. This campaign continues today, at a high diplomatic and political cost to Greece.
Many intellectuals from around the world have joined Greece in this emotionally charged campaign.
The subject is well researched and the story is extremely fascinating. The writing is crisp, witty, and at times entertaining. The author restricts himself to the facts, the reader allowed to draw his/her own conclusions.
This book is a "perpetual holding" of my library.
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