Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I, Claudius by Robert Graves (1934)

I thought I had read this before (I've certainly seen parts of the mini-series from the 1970s) but I guess I hadn't; or only read parts.  To be perfectly honest, I skimmed a good chunk of this anyway.  It's well written and clever - but some of it is a little boring, drags, and feels long in parts.  Modern Library ranked this as 14th of its 100 best novels, which surprised me.  I didn't think it was all that good.  Maybe I missed something.  The book seems sort of smug and full of itself, if a book can be that.

With all those batshit crazy people running the show, I wonder why it took Rome another 500 years to fall?

Still, this was fun to read while in Rome, imaging Claudius and company in the Forum, etc.

I, Claudius (Claudius, #1)I, Claudius by Robert Graves
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

 I enjoyed some of this, and other parts I thought really slogged and bogged.  It's certainly precisely written, and really clever. Claudius is definitely a fully realized character, and his view point is humorous and wry.

It's #14 on Modern Library's 100 best novels, which I don't understand - I didn't think it was that good.  I was visiting Rome while reading the novel, which did lend the book some local flavor; the ghost of Augustus (his will to power?) still floats over Rome and Italy to this day - SPQR.


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