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The Death of Virgil

4.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  685 Ratings  ·  72 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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The Metamorphosis by Franz KafkaThe Man Without Qualities by Robert MusilSteppenwolf by Hermann HesseThe Trial by Franz KafkaThe Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria Rilke
Best German/Austrian Literature
63rd out of 612 books — 783 voters
The Man Without Qualities by Robert MusilThe Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge by Rainer Maria RilkeThe Trial by Franz KafkaThe Lord Chandos Letter by Hugo von HofmannsthalDie Dämonen by Heimito von Doderer
Best Austrian Literature
26th out of 229 books — 132 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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...
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
Dec 19, 2012 Marc rated it did not like it
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
Oct 13, 2009 Adam rated it really liked it
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.
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
Doğuş Biçici
Apr 11, 2016 Doğuş Biçici rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
''..peş peşe yörüngeler boyunca kaderin arkasından giden ve kendisi de zamanların soyları boyunca kaderi babadan oğula taşıyan dönence; tehlikeli bir şekilde kıvrılmış olan bedeni, Samanyolu'ndan döllenmişti; Andromeda, başını Pegasus'un kanatlı omuzlarına dayıyordu; asla kaybolmayan varoluş, bir selamın göze görünmeyen parıltılarını yayıyordu;

Yalnızlık korkusundan kaçmayı amaçladığı oyun,
tekrarlanan güzel bir yanılsama,
güzelliğe kaçış, kaçışın oyunu;
işte kendini insana o noktada açık eder
Mar 27, 2016 Howard rated it it was amazing
Shelves: odd-style
The story is Virgil’s death in his final hours on arriving back at Brundisium to see Emperor Augustus. The fiction is based on the understood history of the real Virgil of 19BC. The book is a long 480 pages comprising 4 books of water (arrival), fire (the decent), earth (expectation), and air (homecoming) – the four universal constituents of Aristole – the final book of air appears to have Virgil merging with the ether. There are few characters including Augustus, a slave boy, Lysanias, Plotia H ...more
Jun 14, 2015 Will rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
"'Du bist immer allzu bescheiden gewesen, Vergil, doch kein Mann falscher Bescheidenheit; es ist mir klar, daß du deine Gaben absichtlich schlecht machen willst, um sie uns schließlich hinterrücks zu entziehen.'

Nun war es ausgespochen, ach, nun war es ausgesprochen – unbeirrbar und hart ging der Cäsar auf sein Ziel los, un nichts wird ihn hindern, die Manuskripte zu rauben: 'Octavian, laß mir das Gedicht!'

'Sehr richtig, Vergil, das ist es ... Lucius Varius und Plotius Tucca haben mir von deinem
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.
Lux Anet
Jan 19, 2015 Lux Anet rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Plurima mortis imago - and perforce one must surrender, as well to the oft-febrile and lyrical nature of Broch's obscure philosophical cum theological musings and labyrinthine verbiage comprising Der Tod des Vergil. Heady, nuanced, magniloquence serves both to muddle and elucidate at turns, which is of course perfectly appropriate and appropriately maddening.
The author's lofty aspirations and cerebral intimations woven as leitmotif throughout the work's four parts - a nod to the elements...and O
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
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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, Volume 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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