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Memoirs of Hadrian

1 rating: 5.0
A book by Marguerite Yourcenar

"In her brilliant 'psychological novel and meditation on history,' Marguerite Yourcenar has written an imaginatively daring and artistically persuasive 'self-portrait' of Hadrian."--Orville Prescott  --Review    Historical … see full wiki

Tags: Book
Author: Marguerite Yourcenar
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
1 review about Memoirs of Hadrian

A masterpiece.

  • Feb 4, 2008
Rating:
+5
This is an unlikely candidate to be on my list of the 5 best books I've ever read. But it is near the top of that list. An "autobiographical" account of a long-dead Roman emperor (not even one of the glamorous, or truly depraved ones), written by a 20th century Frenchwoman - who'd have thunk it?

Other reviews here pay tribute to the depth of scholarship underpinning this book, as well as to Yourcenar's brilliant writing. But it would be wrong to pigeonhole the book as catering only to those interested in the history of the Roman Empire. That's what's so stunning about the book - it has a universal wisdom that should appeal to any reader. The journey with Hadrian as he revisits his life in memory is remarkably moving.

I beg, I implore you - buy, steal, or borrow a copy of this book. It will draw you in. It may not change your life, but it will definitely make you think. All I know is that I find myself re-reading it every three to four years. Why? Because each time I learn something more about what it is to be human.* And come away reinvigorated to face the questions in my own life. I find this book far more spiritually inspiring than any of the more overtly spiritual books I've read.

An extraordinary book. 5 stars, only because it's not possible to give it more than 5.

* A *sodden* cliché, but I don't know how else to put it.

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