Thursday, March 9, 2017

Fire from Heaven by Mary Renault (1969)

I stopped reading this to read Orwell's 1984 and I'm not going to back to it now - and probably not ever.  Mary Renault's writing is dense and elegant, but... to start with, there is a ton of assumed knowledge about Alexander the Great that Renault expects us to have, which I do not.  What the hell did we do before Google?  Because I know next to nothing about Alexander, often I was like "what the hell?"  Especially the idea that a 12 year old boy is flirting with grown men.  I'm reading up on the Greek world simultaneously, and as Norman Cantor writes in his (merely okay) mini-biography of Alexander the Great:  "Most Greek adult males would have regarded the body of a twelve-year-old pubescent boy as the most beautiful body image. There was plenty of physical contact between adult males and their young acolytes, who were raised and educated in their households." (Cantor, Norman F.. Alexander the Great: Journey to the End of the Earth (p. 15). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.).  Now that's the historic truth about Greek men.  And reading about it in a book of history is interesting (to put it lightly).  But I don't need to read a full account.  It's creepy.  I don't know what Mary Renault was up to, and nearly half of the way through the book, I don't think I care anymore.

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