DoctorM's Reviews > The Last of the Wine

The Last of the Wine by Mary Renault
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's review
Jun 18, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: favourites, historical-fiction

I assigned this book to Western Civ 101 students all through my teaching career. It's a clear personal favourite. Renault looks at the end of the great war between Athens and Sparta and the collapse of Athenian democracy and Athenian power. Beautiful, spare, austere writing, finely-crafted characters, and a heartbreaking love story as well. Renault wasn't afraid a generation ago to see that the love story would have to be same-sex, and to depict a world where her young hero would find an older, male lover/mentor as he grew into being an Athenian of his age and class. Renault draws on Xenophon for her depictions of Socrates and the young Plato, and takes a cool and detached and ironic look at the strengths and failings on both democracy and oligarchy. Renault was the best historical novelist of the 20th century, and "Last of the Wine" is vry much worth reading--- absolutely recommended.
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