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The Death of Virgil

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  981 ratings  ·  106 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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Mark Hebwood Oh dear :-)... It sounds as if this word was especially made up for the occasion. You know how inventive German can be in the construction of…moreOh dear :-)... It sounds as if this word was especially made up for the occasion. You know how inventive German can be in the construction of composite words that do not really exist but most people would understand. A native speaker might sense more than know what the word means, it is itself a form of poetry, it carries meaning like perfume carries a scent. I just googled this and it appears that the expression is used in the context of Vergil's last hour, who, in death, is denied to see infinity and whose gaze is blocked by a crystal barrier of Himmelsverborgenheiten. So it means "celestial stuff that is hidden" but I acknowledge that does not sound very poetic. "A crystal ceiling obscuring the heavens" perhaps?(less)

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4.19  · 
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 ·  981 ratings  ·  106 reviews

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Jul 27, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was immediately captivated by the first section (Water - The Arrival) of The Death of Virgil, with its masterful, lyrical prose: even in translation it flows naturally, the writing cascading like a poem (bravo, by the way, to the translator of this novel - I cannot image a more difficult work to reshape into another language). What follows does not deliver to the promise of this opening: Fire - The Descent abandons the external world, turning inwards to the tortured mind of the declining Virgi ...more
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
Evripidis Gousiaris
Όταν η ποίηση παντρεύεται το πεζό κείμενο με τόσο αριστουργηματικό τρόπο, είναι να απορεί κανείς ΠΏΣ ένα τέτοιο έργο δεν είναι πιο γνωστό!

Αν το βρείτε σε κάποιο βιβλιοπωλείο, ανοίξτε το και διαβάστε μια τυχαία σελίδα. Αν σας αρέσει αυτό που διαβάσατε τότε αγοράστε το χωρίς δεύτερη σκέψη. Όλο το βιβλίο διατηρεί το ίδιο ύφος και γλώσσα. Αν σας κουράσει ή σας δυσκολέψει καλύτερα να μην το επιχειρήσετε...(Προσωπικά το λάτρεψα.)

Φοβάμαι ότι οτιδήποτε παραπάνω αν γράψω θα το αδικήσω. Έχω να πω μόνο ό
David Lentz
Jun 11, 2011 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
Apr 28, 2011 added it
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.
David M
May 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
'The old is dying, the new cannot be born' - Gramsci

Burn the Aeneid.

As a friend and I were just discussing, Broch's masterpiece seems especially poignant and relevant today. World historically speaking, probably a good time to get right with one's creator.

As another friend told me, Reading is mostly vanity. Choose the good.

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
“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
Eirini Proikaki
Νομίζω οτι είναι απο τα πιο δύσκολα βιβλία που έχω διαβάσει,ίσως το δυσκολότερο,αλλά πραγματικά άξιζε τον κόπο.
Το βιβλίο έχει μορφή επικού ποιήματος και περιγράφει τις τελευταίες ώρες του Βιργίλιου ο οποίος νιώθοντας οτι πεθαίνει αποφασίζει να καταστρέψει το χειρόγραφο της Αινειάδας.Η γλώσσα είναι υπέροχη,είναι μια απόλαυση να το διαβάζεις,κι αυτό πιστεύω οτι εν μέρει ωφείλεται και στην εξαιρετική μετάφραση η οποία νομίζω οτι ήταν ένας αθλος για τον μεταφραστή.
Πολλές φορές βρέθηκα να γυρίζω πίσω
Jan 04, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: n-austria, l-500bb, 1e, reler
...como disse Frida Khalo: "Onde não puderes amar, não te demores." 50 páginas...
Héctor Genta
La bellezza non salverà il mondo.

Una sfida. Un libro ostico, oscuro, a tratti incomprensibile. Una lettura faticosa, spesso estenuante. Frasi lunghe, ampollose, ridondanti, che più di una volta fanno venir voglia di scagliare il libro contro il muro (e trattandosi nel mio caso di lettura su kindle, la cosa potrebbe essere pericolosa). Una scrittura pesante, respingente, lontana anni luce dalla prosa che siamo abituati a leggere, che rischia spesso di far calare l’attenzione del lettore, costring
Jan 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fiction
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
Bryn Hammond
Oct 13, 2012 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
This is a multiple work of art review because once again a serendipitous simultaneous reading developed my thoughts about this book.

Yesterday I was reading Eugen Ruge’s Cabo de Gata during the intermission of the Met Opera’s HD theater broadcast of Kaija Saariaho’s stunning L/Amour de Loin when I came across the folowing quote, right at the center of Ruge's book. Our emotionally wounded narrator has just realized that a convalescing woman he sees hobble down the village promenade each morning in
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
Dec 27, 2010 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
Oct 09, 2013 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
May 08, 2015 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 20, 2015 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
May 21, 2013 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
Israel Montoya Baquero
Maravilloso es quedarse corto...
Jan 06, 2012 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
J.M. Hushour
Feb 17, 2013 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 14, 2012 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 gives a very lively account of the life at and around the court of emperor August. But his way of writing, with endless sentences full of "moodish"-nouns that go in every direction (usually two opposites), is making reading 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
Ferda Nihat Koksoy
-(zenginlerin) hepsinin ağırlanması gerekiyordu; çünkü kendini her an yeniden açığa vuracak bir açlık vardı; çünkü besili olanların ve zayıfların, ağırcanlıların ve tezcanlıların, dolaşanların ve oturanların, uyanık olanların ve uyuyanların, hepsinin yüzüne damgasının silinmesi ve başkaca bir ifade ile karıştırılması imkansız biçimde vurmuş, sürekli tıkınmak peşinde koşan bir açgözlülük vardı; kiminin yüzüne adeta keski ile kazınmış, kiminin yüzünün çamuruyla birlikte yoğrulmuş, sert veya yumuşa ...more
Simone Subliminalpop
N.B. la parte conclusiva "Etere - Il ritorno" è un'autentica estasi senza fiato di 40 pagine.


Rob Charpentier
May 01, 2014 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
Aug 05, 2011 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
Nevcihan Oktar
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dünya edebiyatına baktığımızda insanın kendisi ile bu kadar büyük bir hesaplaşmaya giriştiği bir başka örnek var mı? ... Vergillius'un ölümünden önceki son saatleri üzerinden hem insan varlığının - aynı anda hem tanrısal hem zavallı olabilen o karışımın - zaaflarını, hem sanatın ahlâkını, hem toplumu, devâsa bir kitle olarak sürüleşen ve hayvanî bir tek gövde oluşturanı ... iktıdarın gücünü ve sınırlarını, iktidarın ahlâkını sorgulayan böyle bir kurgu... Bununla karşılaşmak insanı gerçekten dehş ...more
Jacob Hurley
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This has most of what I like about modernist german literature (the informed but still somewhat mystical reflections on art, poetic stream of consciousness, the slow-meditative pace) and highlights the best parts of the Aeneid. One of the best
Oct 13, 2009 rated it really liked it
Similar to some places in Absalom Absalom in sentence structure, To the Lighthouse in pacing.
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Loosed in Transla...: Hermann Broch 7 47 Nov 04, 2013 01:27PM  
  • Death in Rome
  • Alberta and Jacob
  • Indian Summer
  • Halbzeit
  • The Last World
  • The Island of Second Sight
  • The Lime Works
  • Joseph and His Brothers
  • The Case of Sergeant Grischa
  • Anton Reiser
  • The Glass Bees
  • Jahrestage
  • Green Henry
  • The Manor
  • Lieutenant Gustl
  • Couples, Passersby
  • I Thought of Daisy
  • Pavel's Letters
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.

“ the intoxication of falling, man was prone to believe himself propelled upward.” 27 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.” 15 likes
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