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Hadrianus' gedenkschriften

4.25 of 5 stars 4.25  ·  rating details  ·  8,112 ratings  ·  616 reviews
Both an exploration of character and a reflection on the meaning of history, Memoirs of Hadrian has received international acclaim since its first publication in France in 1951. In it, Marguerite Yourcenar reimagines the Emperor Hadrian's arduous boyhood, his triumphs and reversals, and finally, as emperor, his gradual reordering of a war-torn world, writing with the imagi ...more
Paperback, 308 pages
Published 1991 by Athenaeum - Polak & Van Gennep (first published 1951)
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There is a word that keeps popping up in my reading. I’d go so far as to say that this word is the underlying descriptor for the majority of my favorite books, in some way. The thing is that I can’t tell you exactly what that word is, nor what it means. In Turkish, the word is hüzün, In Korean, it is maybe something close to han, in French perhaps ennui (though I am far from satisfied with that), and in Japanese, mono no aware. None of these words mean quite the same thing, none has the same con ...more
This book is the fruit of one of the most ambitious literary projects I have ever seen. At the age of twenty, Marguerite Yourcenar conceived the idea of writing the life of the Emperor Hadrian. She spent five years on the task, then destroyed the manuscript and all her notes. Over the next decade and a half, she returned to the idea several times, and each time admitted defeat. Finally, in her early 40s, she arrived at a method she could believe in, which she describes as "half history, half mag ...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Jul 07, 2015 Jeffrey Keeten rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jeffrey by: knig
”I was beginning to find it natural, if not just, that we must perish. Our literature is nearing exhaustion, our arts are falling asleep; Pancrates is not Homer, nor is Arrian a Xenophon; when I have tried to immortalize Antinous in stone no Praxiteles has come to hand, Our sciences have been at a standstill from the times of Aristotle and Archimedes; our technical development is inadequate to the strain of a long war; our technical development is inadequate to the strain of a long war; even our ...more
I stepped on deck; the sky, still wholly dark, was truly the iron sky of Homer's poems, indifferent to man's woes and joys alike.

But the man looking at the limitless space above him was not indifferent. He knew the woes of his people and joys of his imperium sine fine. He knew he was both human and supremely divine. Hadrian the Good. Hadrian the ‘Almost Wise’.

I didn’t know much about Hadrian. Only his name along with some cursory details occupied a negligible space of my knowledge bank. I didn
Mar 21, 2015 Dolors rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of art and history
Shelves: read-in-2014

Margerite Yourcenar’s Hadrian is not only the Roman Emperor, citizen of the world and deified ruler, whose heart throbbed at the cadence of Greek poetry, whose resilient physique conquered the barbarian borders of northern Britannia, whose strategic mind enforced groundbreaking laws to regulate the use of slaves and to promote culture in the Pantheon, whose modesty silenced insurgent voices and whose excesses intimidated allied ones.

“I have come to think that great men are characterized by the
Sarah (Presto agitato)
This is a book that I don’t think I would have read if it weren’t for Goodreads. I probably would never have even heard of it. Technically, I suppose this obscure novel would be considered “historical fiction,” but that’s misleading. It is that, but it is also biography, philosophy, meditation, poetry.

Hadrian was Emperor of Rome from AD 117 to 138. Marguerite Yourcenar wrote this novel in the form of a memoir, written by Hadrian near the end of his life and addressed to then 17-year old future e
mark monday
"But books lie, even those that are most sincere. The less adroit, for lack of words and phrases wherein they can enclose life, retain of it but a flat and feeble likeness. Some, like Lucan, make it heavy, and encumber it with a solemnity which it does not possess; others, on the contrary, like Petronius, make life lighter than it is, like a hollow, bouncing ball, easy to toss to and fro in a universe without weight. The poets transport us into a world which is vaster and more beautiful than our ...more
Henry Avila
Through the mists of time, the clouds lift (but only partly, always remain overcast ), they never give up their deep secrets and the myths will continue, such is history, such was the Roman Emperor Hadrian, of the second century, no Julius Caesar , but who was? Sill a very capable man, born in Italica, what is now Spain, to a Roman family of landowners, and Senators, they had left Italy centuries before, and prospered. His cousin, Emperor Trajan, many years his senior, later, adopts the young ma ...more
This is something extraordinary. If I was told this was the actual memoirs of the emperor, I would have believed it.

This is a remarkable book, both for the exquisite and well-crafted writing style, but for the depth and solidity of the research, and how multifaceted and fascinating the character of Hadrian is. It seems I have known him all my life, and I wanted to talk to him about his 'grave Aurelius', only to remember that both have long passed.

Recommended for those who love books, and talkin
Gorgeously written, wise and stately. Meditative, deep in a philosophical probing sort of way, moves smoothly and contains a sort of magnificence...the prose is given room to breathe. I have pretty much every reason to believe it's not taking too many liberties with historical accuracy. Yourcenar spent years researching it and getting the details right and it shows.

Her notes on the research and composition at the end are illuminating and tersely eloquent...worth the price of admission in their
Dec 18, 2009 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: friends; romans; countrymen
Recommended to Jessica by: paul, ginnie, david g.
This book is not nearly as funny as the similarly titled Diaries of Adrian Mole, so don't get them confused! In fact, this book is not funny at all, which is probably my only serious criticism of it. Other than that, it is pretty fucking great.

Um yeah, so it kind of makes my brain hurt that someone wrote this book. I'll probably write a real review soon, it being so good and all.... In the meantime though -- and in case I die suddenly or see something shiny and get distracted, and don't get arou
An Ode

Hadrian. Born and bred from seventy-six to one-thirty-eight,
Man, Roman, Emperor from one-seventeen to one-thirty-eight,
Fictionalized in historical form from nineteen-twenty-four to nineteen-fifty-one,
By Woman, French, Writer, from nineteen-o’-three to nineteen-eighty-seven
Near two millennia separate life and chronicle, the event from the research
The Empire caked in so much study, so much praise, so much distortion,
So much misuse, so much inheritance of both thought and form.
You are one of
What are masterpieces? Let us name a few...the Testament of Villon, the Essays of Montaigne, the Fables of La Fontaine, the Maxims of La Rochefoucald and La Bruyère, the Fleurs du Mal and Intimate Journals of Baudelaire...In feeling, these masterpieces contain the maximum of emotion compatible with a classical sense of form. Observe how they are written; many are short and compressed, fruits of reflective and contemplative natures, prose or poetry of great formal beauty and economy of phrase. Th ...more
Near the beginning of this book, in one of its many lyrical and precise descriptive passages, Hadrian writes about his intimations of mortality.

Comme le voyageur qui navigue entre les îles de l'Archipel voit la buée lumineuse se lever vers le soir, et découvre peu à peu la ligne du rivage, je commence à apercevoir le profil de ma mort.

[As the traveller navigating between the islands of the Archipelago sees the luminous mist rise towards the evening, and discovers, little by little, the line of
Paul Bryant
This is one of those books you don't so much read as worship at the shrine of.
"Just when the gods had ceased to be, and the Christ had not yet come, there was a unique moment in history, between Cicero and Marcus Aurelius, when man stood alone.” (Gustave Flaubert).

Gustave Flaubert’s quote is to some extent the catalyst for Marguerite Yourcenar’s relationship with Hadrian, the Roman emperor who lived from 76 AD to 138 AD – a man she comes to know better than her own father: ‘The facts of my father’s life are less known to me than those of the life of Hadrian.’ (quotes in i
”Veni. Vidi er tempo de oggi, vidi a posta elettronica. Pubblicai le foto de a guera su feisbuc. E vici!”

Mi domando cosa penserebbe Adriano se vedesse lo spot Tim di questi giorni. Non credo ne rimarrebbe stupito. Piuttosto è probabile si siederebbe sotto un ulivo a meditare sulla mutevolezza dell'ironia e dell'esprit du temps. E sorriderebbe.
Diverso sarebbe se lo portassi a vedere cosa succede nelle aule di Montecitorio. Probabilmente avrebbe un déjà-vu. Ma questa è un'altra storia.

Di sicuro, n
In 2009, Hugo Chavez, in an impromptu meeting with Barack Obama, handed the newly-elected American President a copy of The Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano. Chavez wanted Obama to learn from Literature of the exploitation of Latin America. He had hope the young President would be open-minded, and a reader. Obama’s advisers quickly and glibly disabused the hopeful by saying the book was in Spanish, a language the President didn’t know.

It’s do

Life is atrocious, we know. But precisely because I expect little of the human condition, man's periods of felicity, his partial progress, his efforts to begin over again and to continue, all seem to me like so many prodigies which nearly compensate for the monstrous mass of ills and defeats, of indifference and error. Catastrophe and ruin will come; disorder will triumph, but order will too, from time to time. Peace will again establish itself between two periods of war; the words humanity, li
‘Just when the Gods had ceased to be and the Christ had not yet come, there was a unique moment in history, between Cicero and Marcus Aurelius, when man stood alone’ Flaubert to La Sylphide.

This then is the Weltanschauung Yourcenar pays encomium to, panegyrically oded in Memoirs, yet tempered with subdued ‘pragnanz’: Hadrian’s bios is nothing if not temporal Dukkha extrapolated through the measured cadence of a praxeological study of human actions and their consequences, a teological affirmation
Stephen P

After the deprivations of the soldierly life unexpectedly he is named emperor of Rome. Rather than fame, fortune he not only is provided with vast power but the power to carry out his dreams. By enduring and surviving battles he has seen how this ever expanding domain can be run to its benefits and the benefits of his people. Without the suffocation of ego, the need to be seen and validated through the eyes of others he can execute his plans. Rome is to shift from expansion, to the protection of
Truly an astonishing book, as those here (many) who have read it already know. It has nothing in common with the genre of so-called "historical fiction" (which misconception kept me from having even the remotest interest in this book for years). All I can add is the observation that her scholarship is really outstanding -- even apart from her novelistic skills. It just feels so real that it's hard to fathom how she did it.

This refers not only to her knowledge of history (in the broad sense), an
Jul 03, 2007 David rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: top-20, 5q
This is an unlikely candidate to be on my all-time list of the 5 best books I've ever read. But it is. An "autobiographical" account of a long-dead Roman emperor (not even one of the glamorous, or truly filthy ones), written by a 20th century Frenchwoman - who'd have thunk it?

And yet, I beg, I implore you - if you haven't already - buy, steal, or scrounge a copy of this book. It will draw you in. Can't promise it will change your life. All I know is that I find myself re-reading it every two or
I offer you here, in guise of corrective, a recital stripped of preconceived ideas and of mere abstract principles; it is drawn wholly from the experience of one man, who is myself.

While perhaps not the best, Memoirs of Hadrian has the distinction of being the most well-researched novel I’ve ever read. In fact, so much research went into this book that it seems a bit disingenuous to even call it a novel; what is novelistic about it has little to do with fiction—so tenaciously does the thread o
In 1951 Jules Romains, commenting on the most recent work by Marguerite Yourcenar, said that she had a writing style "of near constant perfection and felicity". He was referring to her novel, Memoirs of Hadrian, and more than fifty years later all I can do is concur and add a few more superlatives to describe my reaction to Yourcenar's novel. This is an unique historical novel in the form of a memoir. It is the story of the traditions of Rome and how a great man - an historical figure and superi ...more
30 giorni.

Questo è il tempo che mi è occorso per scrivere una recensione sul libro Memorie di Adriano.
Sembra proprio la dimensione del tempo, quella che permea quest'opera: acquistai il libro molti anni fa, ma ne ebbi sempre timore. Impiegai più tempo del previsto per leggerlo e mi accingo solo ora a buttare giù qualche pensiero.
Perché, questo, non è un libro che si può leggere e poi riporre, bensì è un libro da vivere e contiene quantità di pensieri che cambiano il tuo concetto di vita. Queste
No podía irme sin haber leído esta majestuosa obra de Marguerite Yourcenar. Un bellísimo y épico relato biográfico, escrito como una larga carta del emperador romano Adriano dirigida a su sucesor Marco Aurelio. Prosa penetrante y sobrecogedora que desborda por momentos mi sensibilidad; gloria entre las glorias de la literatura occidental del siglo XX, cuya génesis se remonta al año 1924 y que no vio la luz sino hasta el mediodía del siglo XX.

Sin duda este relato epistolar está llamado a ser una
A truly remarkable piece of work! Written so well, it is almost as if 'his' words are addressed to me, the reader, being Hadrian's most trusted friend. A true work of art!
Well I am outraged. How is it that I was enticed, indeed tricked into reading this book?

I read to decolonise my mind. Who is Hadrian? Hadrian is the arch colonist, one whose belief in the glory of empire is totally unclouded and unshakeable, Emperor of Rome itself. I read to amend the faults of my education in its neglect of racialised 'others', gender outlaws,, the materially deprived, all women and whoever else has been mis or under or not represented, in other words the black brown queer tran
Memoirs of Hadrian is a fictional autobiography written in the form of a long letter to the young Marcus Aurelius, the adopted grandson of the emperor Hadrian and the intended audience for his personal reflections on his rise to power and subsequent management of the Roman Empire. Intermingled throughout are many acute observations on the nature of government and human psychology as well as a variety of extended ontological ruminations on the general esteem owed to the transcendent. The picture ...more
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Yourcenar was born Marguerite Antoinette Jeanne Marie Ghislaine Cleenewerck de Crayencour in Brussels, Belgium to Michel Cleenewerck de Crayencour, of French aristocratic descent, and a Belgian mother who died ten days after her birth. She grew up in the home of her paternal grandmother.

Yourcenar's first novel, Alexis, was published in 1929. Her intimate companion at the time, a translator named G
More about Marguerite Yourcenar...

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“The true birthplace is that wherein for the first time one looks intelligently upon oneself; my first homelands have been books, and to a lesser degree schools.” 80 likes
“Our great mistake is to try to exact from each person virtues which he does not possess, and to neglect the cultivation of those which he has.” 76 likes
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