Daniel's Reviews > Julian

Julian by Gore Vidal
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's review
Jul 19, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: historical-fiction, research
Read from July 19 to August 21, 2010

The idea of the unreliable narrator was driven home in high school when we read The Great Gatsby, but Gore Vidal had not one, but three unreliable narrators in this story about Flavius Claudius Julianus, or Julian the Apostate, the last gasp of Roman paganism before Christianity quashed it. Libanius, a philosopher and rhetorician and friend of Julian, wants to publish the late emperor's memoirs, and seeks the help of Priscus, a teacher and companion of Julian. Julian's "memoir" is interspersed with additions and corrections from the two old men, which helps Vidal project an interesting picture of a complex man and emperor.

At times slow, yet there was quite a bit of wit and humor, as well as some poignant passages as well. This is certainly a good book for anyone interested in the time period, the man, or the accession of Christianity in the Roman Empire.
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