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The Death of Virgil

4.21  ·  Rating Details ·  698 Ratings  ·  73 Reviews
It is the reign of the Emperor Augustus, and Publius Vergilius Maro, the poet of the Aeneid and Caesar's enchanter, has been summoned to the palace, where he will shortly die. Out of the last hours of Virgil's life and the final stirrings of his consciousness, the Austrian writer Hermann Broch fashioned one of the great works of twentieth-century modernism, a book that emb ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published January 15th 1995 by Vintage (first published 1945)
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So, I finished. What I want to know is, where is my prize? This is definitely a book that needs to come with a merit certificate at the finish line. A purportedly stream of consciousness serving as Virgil’s swan song in Brundisium, it is a tax on consciousness and a stream of strum. Which apparently reads as a poem in German, and a labour of, well, labour in English.

As is my wont, I approached with no background ammo: let the text speak, hear, hear. Right at the beginning I floundered: an adulat
David Lentz
Jun 20, 2011 David Lentz rated it it was amazing
This novel reads more like an epic poem than a novel, which is only right as the novel deals with the demise of the Aeneid's brilliant author. A sensitive and patient reader will be generously rewarded by the sheer poetry of the rich and meaningful language written by a first-rate, unheralded genius in Hermann Broch. One sees many shades of Aeneas in this tale about Virgil's trip to visit Caesar to present him the Aeneid. There is much in this tale about the challenges of writers to capture the ...more
“The philosophical content (of The Death of Virgil) itself resembles a Spinozistic Cosmos- and Logos-speculation in which all things we know to be separate and particular appear as the ever changing aspects of an eternal One, so that the manifold is understood as the merely temporary individualization of the all-comprehensive whole.” - Hannah Arendt

“The Death of Virgil, one of the major works of our age, attempts to vitalize language with the contrapuntal logic and dynamic simultaneities of mu
Feb 09, 2016 Chris rated it it was amazing
What goes through the mind of a poet on the verge of death? This sprawling masterpiece of streaming transcendence is one of the more breathtaking interpretations of that divine explosion; one in which the wick ignited by a soul gifted with deep perception winds it’s way through life before being incinerated at the door of death’s bomb. Broch is a master of Zen paradox; throughout the novel he attempts to dissociate his readers from context by turning basic concepts into intangible contradictions ...more
...como disse Frida Khalo: "Onde não puderes amar, não te demores." 50 páginas...
Feb 08, 2011 Joe rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2011, best-books-ever
This novel had a huge impact on me, as a vision of our conscious transformation from a cause-and-effect view of the world into a perception of the eternal, divine truths which must have no beginning or end. Whether you believe or not, you must undergo this trial whereby you know there are things you cannot know.

Broch chronicles the last 24 hours of the Virgil's life, when the poet decides he must burn the Aeneid, until Augustus himself convinces him not to. Virgil's destructive decision stems fr
Hermann Broch was fifty-one years old in 1937 when he began to write The Death of Virgil. In doing this he was adhering to certain principles that he had outlined in an essay, "Joyce and the Present Age", written in the previous year. In this essay he argued that "the work of art, the "universal work of art" becomes the mirror of the Zeitgeist"; that being the totality of the historic reality of the present age. This totality is reflected in great works of art like Faust and the late works of Be ...more
Jul 19, 2014 Joshua rated it really liked it
There are passages in The Death of Virgil that are just breathtaking. At times the novel can be quite bewildering, at others it can be nearly dreadful, but the strong passages really make the confusion and the temporary frustration worth the while.

Broch, in fact, is at his best when putting the hallucinatory confusion and chaos he has sown around the reader to direct use. In one scene, Virgil sits in his room discussing the fate of his unfinished masterpiece with two of his friends. While talkin
Bryn Hammond
Sep 13, 2013 Bryn Hammond rated it it was amazing
Shelves: imagined-fiction
So why is Virgil upset with his art?

...and this was the very reason why he had never succeeded in depicting real human beings, people who ate and drank, who loved and could be loved, and this was why he was so little able to depict those who went limping and cursing through the streets, unable to picture them in their bestiality and their great need of help, least able to show forth the miracle of humanity with which such bestiality is graced; people meant nothing to him, he considered them as
Jun 30, 2015 Jale rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
470 sayfalık aşka, ölüme, doğaya övgü; sanatçı ve dahi sanata yergi. Bir cümlenin birkaç sayfa sürdüğü Su-Varış, Ateş-Çöküş bölümlerinde sabırlı davranılırsa, Roma İmparatoru Augustus ve Vergilius'un "sanat, sanat içindir./sanat, toplum içindir." temalı enfes diyaloglarının sürdüğü Toprak-Bekleyiş bölümü keyif verecektir.
Ahmet Cemal aralıklı olarak 40 yılda çevirmiş, ben 2 ayda okudum, bir cümleyi yarım saatte sindirdiğim de oldu, günlerce sürdüğü de.
Okuması da, hatırlaması da, taşıması da ağı
Jul 07, 2013 Jane rated it it was amazing
This book was amazing!! I can't pretend to understand most of the stream of consciousness. The basic straight-forward story is short and quickly told: the last 18 hours in Virgil's life as he is dying. He wants to burn the Aeneid, is talked out of it by Augustus, and he dictates his last will to his friends. Wow, some of the phantasmagoric descriptions, both straight-forward and surreal, and word-pictures are absolutely startling and haunting!! Someday I'll reread the book again. A big help was ...more
David M
Jun 06, 2015 David M rated it it was amazing
A lot of people claim this book is boring or extremely difficult. While I don't mean to dispute other people's incorrigible mental states, I must submit my own testimony. For me reading Death of Virgil was a downright ecstatic experience. I finished it in just a few days, practically in a trance. I had an extremely beat-up copy from a used bookstore which nearly turned to dust as I turned the pages. This seemed appropriate, as the subject is at once immortality and evanescence; the power of love ...more
Jul 11, 2007 Apurva rated it it was amazing
Prose was never written in this fashion.
Poetry was never written in this fashion.
Greatest tribute ever paid to Virgil.
Aug 03, 2015 Giovanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, infinito è l'intelletto umano, ma quando sfiora l'infinito, ecco che ne viene respinto.

Nelle ore che precedono la morte, Virgilio riconsidera con una nuova consapevolezza la sua vita e la sua opera, cadendo in una disperazione senza via d'uscita: l'Eneide non ha portato ad alcun atto di conoscenza, non è riuscita a toccare l'assoluto. L'unica via di salvezza è, perciò, la sua distruzione. Di fronte all'assolutezza della morte, Virgilio percepisce l'inconcludenza della propria vita e della pr
J.M. Hushour
Feb 17, 2013 J.M. Hushour rated it liked it
It's been a while since I've read a novel that I've actually contemplated not finishing. With "Virgil" this was a nightly occurrence. I only continued reading it because it's considered by no lesser figures than the likes of George Steiner and Thomas Mann as one of the pinnacles of European literature. Well...there are passages of exquisite beauty and the overarching idea is interesting (art as linked to perception which is linked to love and thus utter enlightenment) but Broch brings the notion ...more
Oct 07, 2012 Kerveros rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I do not have much things to say about this book.
It is a masterpiece. One of the best works ever written.
A novel in the form of a poem with amazing language formations.
I recommend it to everybody, although I think it is much easier for somebody who speaks german vey well.
I strongly believe that the translation of this book in english or any other language is failing to transfer to the reader the beauty of this work.
Rob Charpentier
Apr 10, 2016 Rob Charpentier rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rob by: Aldous Huxley
Shelves: fiction, favorites
Even if you’ve absolutely no interest in reading classic Greek or Roman Literature this is still an absolutely incredible novel in spite of the fact that that it deals with precisely this time period and subject matter. Rather than being a pretentious and dry example of Classic Lit 101, it is instead considered something of a legendary modern classic in every sense of the meaning. Personally, I regard its reputation as more than well deserved on the writing alone but it would appear that it also ...more
Nov 16, 2015 Matt rated it liked it

i went into this book with high hopes. Epic theme, interesting exiled author (Viennese Jew fled to the States and wrote this after the trauma of fascism), lyricism, density, blurbs from heavyweights like Hannah Arendt and George Steiner.

Hell, I even decided to read The Aeneid before delving into this one just because it's ridiculous that I hadn't and I wanted to get the backstory. Loved it, by the way, so that was time well spent.

And I'm definitely a fan of the Modernist several-pages-to-a-sent
Elsa Meza Rochin
Leer la muerte de Virgilio requiere de compromiso, sin duda tiene su recompensa en el uso maravilloso de lenguaje llevado al límite que lo hace tan extraordinario. Es por mucho el libro más bello que he leído en donde sería difícil encontrar un tema no tratado desde el umbral de la muerte.
Jun 22, 2013 Geoff marked it as to-read
Guy Davenport says this book "may be the final elegy closing the long duration of a European literature from Homer to Joyce." Gotta get on this one asap.
Oct 14, 2016 Adam rated it really liked it
Similar to some places in Absalom Absalom in sentence structure, To the Lighthouse in pacing.
Nov 20, 2015 Asa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1001-books
The death of Virgil is a book that really didn't work for me, and I've spent some time trying to figure out why. It wasn't because of the obvious things - bad writing, one-dimensional characters, uninteresting plot - or because of a pet peeve, but I had to force myself to finish it.

For me, books are made out of four building blocks: Characters, Plot, Setting and Language. It varies from book to book how they are used and how important they are, and all readers have different opinions about whic
Sep 05, 2014 HM rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
طرح اولیه ی این اثر سترگ از هرمان بروخ در شماره 34 (پاییز 1391) مجله سینما و ادبیات با ترجمه فنی و جالب محمود حدادی تحت عنوان "بازگشت ویرژیل" چاپ شده است

ویرژیل همیشه از توده پرهیز داشت. نه این که توده، ترسی در جانش بیندازد. ولی آن تهدیدی را درمیافت که در وجود آن نهفته بود و از آن زاده می شد و عنصر انسانی را به خطر می انداخت، تهدیدی که ترحم بر می انگیخت و همزمان به مسوولیت فرا می خواند ، آری به چنان مسوولیت بزرگی که ویرژیل بسیاری بارها می اندیشد زیر فشار آن درهم خ
Aug 20, 2013 Michel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I give up trying to review this better than Knig:
"So, I finished. What I want to know is, where is my prize? This is definitely a book that needs to come with a merit certificate at the finish line. A purportedly stream of consciousness serving as Virgil’s swan song in Brundisium, it is a tax on consciousness and a stream of strum. Which apparently reads as a poem in German, and a labour of, well, labour in English."
Same in French, in case you wanna know.
zaCk S
Apr 10, 2008 zaCk S rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: sadists and people who cut me off in traffic
Recommended to zaCk by: obviously, someone who isn't as much a friend as i thought
Has a wonderful air of importance, but damn hard to get through. amazing sentence structure complete with a near total abolition of grammar allowing for sweeping paragraphs of single-sentencery. completely worth reading if you enjoy washing you car with a 2 inch by 2 inch chamois, or if you've ever assembled a 2,500,000 piece puzzle.
Jack Laschenski
Jun 06, 2009 Jack Laschenski rated it it was ok
A novel that purports to contain what went through the mind of Virgil, the author of the Aeneid in the 2 days before he died.

I read it only because it was a gift from a friend.

It is a vomiting of millions of words about "The meaning of it all".

J.G. Keely
Feb 05, 2012 J.G. Keely marked it as abandoned
Shelves: novel, germany
Related to epic poetry and renowned for incomprehensibility? Sounded fun, but a bit hard to get into. Maybe I'll have better luck with this some other time.
Aug 10, 2008 Webb rated it it was amazing
I just recently reread this book after I bought NIN's Ghosts album... they go perfectly together. try it.
John steppling
Dec 04, 2013 John steppling rated it it was amazing
One of the top five novels of the 20th century...maybe of all time. Strange he is so little discussed. Mesmerizing.
Feb 08, 2015 0rkun rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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Loosed in Transla...: Hermann Broch 7 38 Nov 04, 2013 01:27PM  
  • Alberta and Jacob
  • The Last World
  • Indian Summer
  • Memoirs of My Nervous Illness
  • Death In Rome
  • Extinction
  • Joseph and His Brothers
  • Halbzeit
  • Anton Reiser
  • Lieutenant Gustl
  • Green Henry
  • Simplicissimus
  • The Man Without Qualities: Vol. 2
  • The Case of Sergeant Grischa
  • Pallieter
  • The Glass Bees
  • The Life and Opinions of the Tomcat Murr
  • Pointed Roofs
Broch was born in Vienna to a prosperous Jewish family and worked for some time in his family's factory in Teesdorf, though he maintained his literary interests privately. He attended a technical college for textile manufacture and a spinning and weaving college. Later, in 1927, he sold the textile factory and decided to study mathematics, philosophy and psychology at the University of Vienna.

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“ the intoxication of falling, man was prone to believe himself propelled upward.” 16 likes
“… for overstrong was the command to hold fast to each smallest particle of time, to the smallest particle of every circumstance, and to embody all of them in memory as if they could be preserved in memory through all deaths for all times.” 7 likes
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