The Death of Virgil
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The Death of Virgil

4.27 of 5 stars 4.27  ·  rating details  ·  432 ratings  ·  45 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...more
David Lentz
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...more
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
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...more
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...more
Bryn Hammond
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...more
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
Prose was never written in this fashion.
Poetry was never written in this fashion.
Greatest tribute ever paid to Virgil.
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.
Charlotte Rogan
Open to any page and read for language.
J.M. Hushour
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
Marc L
I can take a hard bite, when it comes to difficult literature, but this one just went too far for me. The last days of Virgil as a theme is really interesting, and Broch does give a very lively account of the life at and around the court of the emperor August. But his way of writing, with endless sentences full of "moodish"-nouns that go in every direction (usually two opposites), is making the book a real ordeal. I know there are people who can enjoy this style, as I can see on these pages of G...more
Nothing like it...slow going: in lots of sentences, you are part way into a clause before you realize grammatically it was not the way, initially, would have been your assumption, so this can make for some back and forth. This book is amazing, Faulkner fans will love it. Some of the writing is really, really right, like nothing. Also for fans of To the Lighthouse, re pacing.
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.
Rob Charpentier
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
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...more
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...more
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.
Hermann Broch a început lucrul la Moartea lui Virgiliu în 1935, dar cartea a apărut în 1945, imediat după cel de Al II-lea Război Mondial. A fost scrisă, așadar, în vremuri tulburi, în care problema morții se punea cu acuitate. Arestat în 1938, Hermann Broch reușește să emigreze în SUA, unde își termină romanul. Aşa cum recunoaște el însuși într-o scrisoare, amenințarea morții, presimțită doar în 1936, devine iminentă în 1938, astfel încât moartea lui Virgiliu devine o imagine a propriei morți...more
Feb 05, 2012 Keely marked it as abandoned
Shelves: germany, novel
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.
Extraordinary work of art. When I have time, I shall tackle the German. But even the Untermeyer translation is beautiful. Rarely have I found a novel so probing. May be the greatest work of fiction in the twentieth century. Certainly surpasses, in my opinion, Joyce or Mann, and is equal to Proust for its natural beauty of language and flow of imagery. Of course, that it concerns Virgil is a big plus.

"Then I must ask you again, Virgil, toward which goal have you been striving with your poetry si...more
John steppling
One of the top five novels of the 20th century...maybe of all time. Strange he is so little discussed. Mesmerizing.
I just recently reread this book after I bought NIN's Ghosts album... they go perfectly together. try it.
Jacob Russell
A book you cannot rush. A gorgious, hypnotic dream of death... and the dream of immortality.
Charles Keatts
Six stars. beautiful.
Mateus Pereira
Hermann Broch, um dos maiores ficcionistas do século XX, escreveu o que George Steiner chamou de "o avanço técnico genuíno que a ficção atingiu desde o Ulysses", o romance "A morte de Virgílio". Nesse livro Broch recompõe as últimas dezoitos horas do poeta latino. Em uma prosa contemplativa e divagadora, o autor nos conduz até Virgílio em toda a sua intimidade. Os devaneios do poeta, suas elucubrações sexuais e, como não poderia deixar de ser, seu imenso talento como escritor. Observamos de pert...more
Roman tekniği açısından oldukça farklı bir yerde. Alegori, soyutlama, bilinçaltı, hastalığa bağlı veya kendiliğinden gelişen delüzyonlar romanın onda dokuzluk bölümünde. Sanırım bu nedenle tamamı iki günü anlatan ve sadece üç historik karakterin yeraldığı romanda çok ciddi tıkanmalar oluyor. İlgimi ciddi anlamda çeken ve bu kısmı itibariyle antik Roma'daki devlet ve sanat anlayışını çok başarılı anlatan Augustus-Vergilius dialogları dışında okunması oldukça zor, farkında olmadan psikanalitik öge...more
Rebecca Watson
The choice of theme was very interesting; and after getting used to the style the first part or so was perfectly fine. But as soon as Virgil arrived at court, it became almost a torture. The last part was better- especially the last sentences were beautiful.
I must add that I read the book in German.
My conclusion is: It was a little too much for me, though I had read somewhat 'difficult' stuff before; Joyce's 'Ulysses' was easier.
i had a difficult time with this book and read it slowly over the course of two unemployed months. beautiful prose that makes you lose yourself in the words, to the point where it's easy to completely lose track of what is being said. it's difficult but well worth the effort. i've actually never read the aenid and i wonder how much more i'd appreciate this book if i had read it first. still great book and well worth reading if you have the time.
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Loosed in Transla...: Hermann Broch 7 31 Nov 04, 2013 01:27PM  
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Austrian writer, considered one of the major Modernists.
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