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Customer Review

on 15 December 1999
The Death of Vergil is the strangest, the most demanding and quite possible the most beautiful book I've ever read. The "protagonist" is the dying writer Vergil, and the book is one long passage of almost uninterrupted stream-of-consciousness. But wait, those of you who never had the stamina to get through "Ulysses"! This one has a rythm of narration that is almost musically "catchy", and indeed, the story is deliberately composed as a symphony in 4 parts of varying tempi. What happens in this almost 500 pages long book? Well, Vergil arrives in Brundisium along with Augustus Caesar, who is going to be celebrated at his birthday a few weeks later. He then is carried from the ships to Caesars palace in the city - this is the first part of the book. He then hallucinates through the night, and finds peace in the notion of burning the Aeneid - his masterpiece. This is the second part. Then in the morning he meets friends, then Augustus, and there's a quarrel over the burning of the Aeneid, this is the third part of the book. In the fourth part Virgil dies. The action is limited to this, but the real action is in the head of the aging writer - you are there! And it's frightingly convincing (parts of the book are written in a german prison cell during World War II, the writer thus himself being close to the notion of dying). It took me 3 months to read the book (because i work full time?), and some passages I had to read twice, or thrice, to get in the right mode of concentration. So it's by no means an easy book to read.
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