Siria's Reviews > I, Claudius

I, Claudius by Robert Graves
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Jun 05, 2007

it was ok
bookshelves: 20th-century, british-fiction, historical-fiction
Read in December, 2005

Hmm. I'm not entirely sure if I liked this, or if I didn't. I mean, on the one hand, the prose style read plausibly as a translation from the classical Latin, much of the research was accurate, and I really liked Graves' take on Claudius himself. On the other hand, I thought his Augustus was incredibly off - whatever else the man was, he was incredibly intelligent, and I think Graves really underestimated him - and I would have quibbles with some of the rest of the characterisation as well.

Some of it, I know, is down to interpretation; Caligula, for example. I know that you can read him from the historical sources as being completely batshit, which is what Graves went with; I would read them differently, though, and am not convinced that Caligula was mad. I winced a little at that, but have to acknowledge its legitimacy as an interpretation, and the traditional one at that. The one part where the book really fell down for me was the fact that Graves clearly allowed his own thinking on religion and sexuality, as someone who grew up in a western European, Christian environment, to permeate the book. I know that he was writing in the 30s, so I have to give him some leeway there; but I still think that that is one of the cardinal errors of historical fiction.

Interesting enough that I might watch the mini-series now, if I have the opportunity. I might even read the sequel. I wasn't overly enamoured, though.
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06/07 marked as: read

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