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Ben Hur (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – 5 Jan 1996

4.2 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions; New Ed edition (5 Jan. 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853262838
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853262838
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 2.3 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 35,960 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

From the Back Cover

Ben-Hur is better known as a film than as a novel. Cinematic in scope and narrative, it was nevertheless as a book that it first met huge popular success on its publication in 1880. Intended as a moral and inspirational narrative, Judah Ben-Hur's life parallels that of Jesus as he makes a journey of discovery and enlightenment through the Mediterranean world from Jerusalem through Nazareth to the galleys that carry him to shipwreck in the Aegean and, finally, Rome. A spiritual tale of the quest for love and the recovery of identity and patrimony, the novel also displays a vivid realism based on Wallace's biblical research and knowledge of the Holy Land. Like other 'toga novels' of the period, Ben-Hur reflects the dissent, division, and moral contradiction of America's emerging imperial culture, the 'New Woman' question, the settlement of the Far West, and even trade unionism. Rich in social parallels, Ben-Hur is both a great historical epic and a window on late nineteenth-century literature.

About the Author

David Mayer has a position in the Department of Drama at the University of Manchester.


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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Aug. 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
With yet another film of this to shortly grace cinema screens throughout the country it is good to see that this story is being kept alive, although for most I should think that they have not read the book before, and the mention of Ben-Hur conjures up the famous chariot race, which everyone seems to enjoy.

Lewis ‘Lew’ Wallace wrote more than just this novel, although it seems to be the only one most of us have heard of or read, and as his second book this was the one that brought him fame. Although arguably falling into the Christian Fiction genre to be honest this will probably appeal to most as its themes are universal. A bestseller in its day this still has the power to conjure up the Middle East, its landscape and history, along with the Roman Empire and a certain person called Jesus.

Starting off with the Magi meeting to follow the star to Bethlehem to see the Messiah, Jesus as such makes a few appearances throughout the book, with a major appearance near the end. We follow Judah here, who is the Ben-Hur of the title, as his family falls upon hard times due to an accident which sees Judah being charged with attempted assassination, and the betrayal of a former friend.

Throughout this tale the themes of betrayal, love, loyalty, compassion, honour, faith, vengeance and greed constantly raise their heads, making this something that is very easy to read. Although Wallace at the time had never been to Italy or the Middle East when he wrote this he did do a lot of research and thus what he creates with regards to the landscapes is quite good and detailed, making them really come alive.
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By M. Dowden HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 28 Aug. 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
With yet another film of this to shortly grace cinema screens throughout the country it is good to see that this story is being kept alive, although for most I should think that they have not read the book before, and the mention of Ben-Hur conjures up the famous chariot race, which everyone seems to enjoy.

Lewis ‘Lew’ Wallace wrote more than just this novel, although it seems to be the only one most of us have heard of or read, and as his second book this was the one that brought him fame. Although arguably falling into the Christian Fiction genre to be honest this will probably appeal to most as its themes are universal. A bestseller in its day this still has the power to conjure up the Middle East, its landscape and history, along with the Roman Empire and a certain person called Jesus.

Starting off with the Magi meeting to follow the star to Bethlehem to see the Messiah, Jesus as such makes a few appearances throughout the book, with a major appearance near the end. We follow Judah here, who is the Ben-Hur of the title, as his family falls upon hard times due to an accident which sees Judah being charged with attempted assassination, and the betrayal of a former friend.

Throughout this tale the themes of betrayal, love, loyalty, compassion, honour, faith, vengeance and greed constantly raise their heads, making this something that is very easy to read. Although Wallace at the time had never been to Italy or the Middle East when he wrote this he did do a lot of research and thus what he creates with regards to the landscapes is quite good and detailed, making them really come alive.
Read more ›
Comment One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a low-cost and very decent edition of Wallace's classic.

BEN-HUR is a fascinating novel whose true narrative and meaning have become blurred, in the 120 years since its publication, thanks to the popularity of the films to which it has given birth. In essence BEN-HUR is Christian existentialism, in its purest and most appealing manifestation, weaved into a twofold story of vengeance vs. forgiveness, killing vs. redemption —Ben Hur against Messala vs. Christ for the people who is against Him.

So, Ben Hur represents the Old Law, the Law of the vengeful God of the Old Testament, and his story is put in contrast with the story of Christ, who incarnates the New Law, the Law of the forgiving God of the Gospels. It is somehow ironic, therefore, that Ben Hur, who eventually becomes a Christian, who has been a witness to the proof of unlimited love and forgiveness which is the Crucifixion, is unable to forgive Messala. For, when all is said and done, what are the evil doings of the Roman compared with the sufferings inflicted on the Nazarene by his tormentors? But, after all, it is this irony which is the motive force of the narrative, as if asking the reader, What kind of man are you? Are you a man of rightful vengeance or of superhuman forgiveness?

As for myself, I've learned with this book that I am a man of rancour, one who prefers to see the Messalas of the world killed than forgiven, and thus able to crucify the next good guy who comes to us with his Gospel of peace.
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