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Creation

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  3,225 Ratings  ·  267 Reviews
Once again the incomparable Gore Vidal interprets and animates history -- this time in a panoramic tour of the 5th century B.C. -- and embellishes it with his own ironic humor, brilliant insights, and piercing observations. We meet a vast array of historical figures in a staggering novel of love, war, philosophy, and adventure . . .
"There isn't a page of CREATION that doe
...more
Hardcover, 574 pages
Published September 10th 2002 by Doubleday (first published 1981)
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Hadrian
Oct 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
The late Gore Vidal had a penchant for upending history, with his retellings of Burr, Lincoln, the Emperor Julian, and Roosevelt. Here, he has an irresistible setting - the memoirs and recollections of a Persian diplomat who is fed up with listening to Herodotus boast about an imagined victory (barbarians!), and retells his life to his son. He has met, and hobnobbed with, Zoroaster, Anaximander, Pericles, Socrates, the Buddha, Confucius, Xerxes, Darius, and Lao Tsi.

All of these figures (with th
...more
Sean DeLauder
Jan 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Moonbutterfly
Shelves: vidal, all-time-bests
Persian history at the peak of the Achaemenid Empire (5th century BCE) is pretty neatly summed up in a few lines from our high school world history courses, largely in connection with Greek history. We hear a few snippets about the Persian rulers, Cyrus, Darius, and Xerxes; a big paragraph about the runner who sprinted from Marathon to warn the Greeks of the Persian attack (which was comeuppance for supporting a revolt in Persia and burning the city of Sardis) and ever after served as the namesa ...more
David Sarkies
Oct 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: History Buffs
Recommended to David by: Gore Vidal Himself
Shelves: philosophy
An historical novel of truly epic proportions
20 October 2012

I didn't realise that Gore Vidal was what is called a revisionist when it came to his historical novels, but it only makes me want to pick up more of his books because revisionists tend to give us an alternate view of history that differs from the history that is written by the winners. This book is one of those examples: not so much a retelling of Herodotus but rather a version of Herodotus written from the view of a Persian.

For thos
...more
Vit Babenco
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Creation is my most favourite novel on the subject of an ancient history, and not because it had opened my eyes to some antediluvian clandestine truths but because of its freewheeling stylishness.
“I am blind. But I am not deaf. Because of the incompleteness of my misfortune, I was obliged yesterday to listen for nearly six hours to a self-styled historian whose account of what the Athenians like to call ‘the Persian Wars’ was nonsense of a sort that were I less old and more privileged, I would h
...more
Bahram Bahrami
Jun 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those interested in history of Irano-Greek wars.
This is a magnificent novel by Gore Vidal. I had read a translation of it many years ago. However a few weeks ago Vidal was in Toronto and that was how I began looking at the novel again. For those Iranians who were angry at the movie 300, this book works as a relief. The narrator is an imaginary Cyrus Spitama, who Vidal describes as the grandson of Zoroaster (Zarathushtra). I have to add that Zoroaster lived somewhere between 4000 to 7000 years ago. Recent studies are in favour of 7000, includi ...more
Felisa Rosa
Feb 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: history nerds, esoteric gossip hounds, and anyone in to Vidal
Recommended to Felisa by: Tom
Shelves: literature
This is not one of my favorite books of all time, but I am giving it five stars anyway because it truly is amazing. Vidal's grasp of history never fails to impress me. Creation is a long rambling journey across the fourth century B.C as viewed by Cyrus Spitama, a Persian diplomat and the grandson of Zoroaster. Vidal breaks several of the cardinal rules of fiction, and the book can seem a little exhausting at times; the lengthy conversations about ancient Greek politics would have been more inte ...more
Erik Graff
Jan 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: literature
This and Julian may be my favorite novels by Vidal, not that I've read them all yet.

Creation postulates, within the realm of plausibility, a character who, in the course of his lifetime, travels from Persia to India to China to Greece and meets such luminaries as Zoroaster, the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Confucius and Herodotus. It is done amusingly, but seriously enough that a reader unfamiliar with the period might be inspired to pursue a more serious study.
Tom LA
Oct 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Hey Petra thanks for the like : ) As full of himself mr. Vidal was, this book is such a masterwork! I'd like to read it again sometime.
Emerson Grossmith
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
One of my favourite books on Iran and history. I first read this in 1982 when I was travelling in India. I had heard of the book before I began an around the world trip in 1981-82 and picked up a dog-eared copy in New Delhi. It had a profound effect on me because most of ancient history came from the Greek side of things primarily from the "Father of History" Herodotus.

Vidal took a different tact and wrote this book from the Persian side of history and rightly so. I don't know why Old World his
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Мартин Касабов
Наричат го "Оскар Уайлд" на XX-век, при това съвсем заслужено. Известен със скандалните си бисексуални връзки, светкавичния си ум и писателска умелост, Гор Видал може да прави каквото си поиска. Може да напише съвременна критика на американското общество, да разгледа наболели социални проблеми или да изгради един съвсем точен образ на древния свят.

"Сътворението" е крайъгълен камък за всеки, който се интересува от история. В романа са разбъркани имената на Питагор, Сократ, Перикъл, Буда, Дарий, К
...more
Scriptor Ignotus
Mar 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: literature
I give up. I expected to love this book, but Gore Vidal somehow managed to take an amazing concept for a story and turn it into one of the dullest books i've ever tried to slog through. The narrator has little depth, despite his unnecessary verbosity, and neither do most of the people he encounters, despite their being some of the most influential people in world history. It is obvious that Vidal did an extensive amount of research for the book and attempted to include every sliver of informatio ...more
Petya
Mar 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Много мащабна книга, която ми направи силно впечатление. Радвам се, че я отлагах дълго, тъй като сега е по-подходящ момент за прочитането й. Страхотно интересна гледна точка по отношение на източните философии, зороастризма и учението на Питагор. Много политически игри и интриги. Определено си струва четенето!
Perry Whitford
May 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
In many ways, Creation can lay claim to being the mother of all historical fiction novels. What a period Vidal chose to write about, he couldn't have picked a more fertile time! With a canny choice of first person narrator, and only a little economy of the accepted truths about one or two of the characters, we get to see Pericles, Xerxes, Buddha, Confucius, Socrates and Zoroaster to name just a few.

That's a weighty bunch of statesmen and philosophers if ever there was one!

Persian diplomat Cyrus
...more
kaśyap
Apr 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: historical
This is a well-informed and ambitious historical novel set in 5th century B.C. During the reign of Darius and Xerxes and the Persian-Greek wars. The book is in the form of a chronicle of the life of Cyrus Spitama, a grandson of the prophet Zoroaster. It takes the form of a narration of his life story to a young Democritus.

Starting with the death of Zoroaster and his early life at the persian court, the book then chronicles his travels to India where he meets Gosala, Mahavira and the Buddha and C
...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
I recall once that Gore Vidal included this title on a list he provided some interviewer (one supposes, given the vagaries of memory) of Books Which Everyone Ought To Read. And don't quibble with me about who is and who is not included in "everyone" because, well, either it includes everyone or it's slightly hyperbolic. Nor please to quibble about the "ought" because I have really no patience nor tolerance for those who say there is only an is and never an ought, even if patience and tolerance a ...more
James
It is often remarked upon that the sixth century B.C. contained an overflow of major figures in the history of world religion and philosophy. But what if these disparate persons were all linked by one figure, like an ancient six degrees of Kevin Bacon? In his sumptuous historical novel Creation, Gore Vidal proposes a character: Cyrus Spitama, the grandson of the prophet Zoroaster, who becomes familiar not only with legendary Persians (Darius, Xerxes) or Greek(Democritus, Socrates, Herodotus), bu ...more
Simon MacKintosh
Nov 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
The world was not always as small as it is today. Perhaps, in the future, when man travels beyond our planet, our world will grow again, but for now it is probably as small as it will ever be. But there was a time when journeys were measured in months or even years, when other countries were only known through myth and rumor and the people of every country beyond yours were Barbarians, and the ‘known world’ covered less than a quarter of our globe. The reality of these times becomes the fantasy ...more
Joel Judge
Mar 05, 2014 marked it as to-read
OK, confession time, I started reading Creation, but just could not, no matter how hard I tried, get into it. Creation was the first book I've really started and did not finish. This is not to say that it was a bad read, I'd be the first to admit that maybe I was having an off week, but it was just way too complicated for me, it was giving me a massive migraine. I like historical fiction but I also want an engaging story. I found the prose, too far up it's own proverbial to be enjoyable. I don't ...more
Shirin
Aug 21, 2007 rated it did not like it
The book has great sense of humor and some rare fine discussions between characters, which I can assume they come from the author's own personality.

However, I really disliked the book. The story didn't attract me at all and I had hard time finishing it. There was absolutely no historical reference in the story plus some parts the author intended to make the book so close to hollywood movies. Sorry to who ever liked the book, it's just a personal idea.

Cheers.
Fede
Feb 16, 2018 rated it liked it
'Vidal has said that he wanted to read a novel in which Socrates, Buddha and Confucius all made an appearance: lacking such a book, he had to write it himself '. A. Burgess

Well, he did a good job.
Set in the 5th century B.C., "Creation" is the story of Cyrus Spitama, the imaginary grandson of Zoroaster - the prophet of Ahura Mazda, the Wise Lord, and hence the man who introduced the first truly monotheistic cult in the Persian empire. After the invasion of their hometown Cyrus and his Greek mot
...more
Punit Soni
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classics, history
I fail to remember the last time I read such an intense, difficult and informative book. The only book which surpasses this one in sheer mass and complexity is War and Peace. In terms of the tremendous amount of information embedded in this historical fiction, there is none other I can think of. Gore Vidal contends that 5th century BC was one of the most creative periods of human existence. 5th century BC, the age which saw huge strides in creation and expansion of ancient civilizations, a time ...more
La Stamberga dei Lettori
Non sarà proprio rispettoso di una certa etichetta del recensore cominciare una recensione ripercorrendo la storia editoriale di un romanzo, ma in questo caso la dovuta premessa, vi assicurò, avrà il gusto di un piacevole antipasto in attesa della portata principale.

Tutto inizia dalle esigenze del Gore Vidal lettore, piuttosto che scrittore: il che, almeno a mio avviso, segna già un punto a favore. In un paese, quale l'Italia (ma in larga compagnia), in cui tutti si sentono scrittori senza mai e
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Kevin Tole
The problem with Gore Vidal and his 'historical' novels is that you can be sun dazzled by his erudition whilst failing to recognise what he said himself about his historical novels - nobody knew what it was really like so my 'interpretation' is as good as any other. Interpretation yes. Elaboration? Hmmmmm. There is of course the sense that if a story is worth telling, it's worth elaborating, but then that takes us away from the 'Historical' and puts us completely into the world of the 'Novel'.

Th
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Seth Reeves
May 22, 2014 rated it liked it
This novel is basically an exploration of the question "If God created the universe, then who created God?" through the device of a Persian grandee-but-not-noble that travels between Greece and China around 400 BC. The funny thing is that nowadays many people end up on their own spiritual journey, starting with their own faith tradition then learning about those of others, and come up with as few definite answers as the protagonist Cyrus Spitama does in this novel.

I greatly enjoyed the enlighte
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Hollis
Apr 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Books these days tend to be divided into two categories: those that are ''entertaining'' and those that are 'interesting'. ''Entertaining'' books are enjoyable to read but they tend to be a bit brainless and mediocre, a bit light; ''interesting'' books on the other hand are often boring and difficult to understand: the reader writhes in his seat and sighes as he battles his way through an 800-page classic of Victorian literature, wondering if he should really be doing something else.

Vidal is on
...more
Shane
Aug 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
A long time ago I saw Gore Vidal on Bill Maher's show Politically Incorrect. I was very impressed with just about everything he said so when I saw this book at some used bookstore or thrift store (can't remember which) I picked it up. I actually started reading it and then the size of it scared me off. But now that he just died the other day I figured it would be a good time to read it.

This book took me 5 months to read (although I was reading other books at the same time). It's huge (593 pages)
...more
Jane
Jun 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting book, life of the fictional Cyrus Spitama, grandson of Zoroaster, the religious teacher, as told to his grandson. Set in Persia right before, during and after the Greco-Persian War. Cyrus gives a completely different version of that war than we're used to and describes his boyhood years growing up with Xerxes, who later becomes Great King. Then Cyrus is appointed ambassador to several countries, most notably India and Cathay. Darius, then king, wants to invade India. Much of the book ...more
Bill
Jun 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is my second time through this wonderful book. Vidal has that rare talent of making me feel like I have a personal relationship with the narrator and of putting me right into the world he has created. The somewhat contrived adventures of Cyrus Spitama provide the vehicle for an exploration of the majority of the "civilized" world that existed at the time of Buddha and other religious figures that play a role in "Creation". The narrator's journeys are also a mechanism for Vidal to discuss hi ...more
Brad Lyerla
Oct 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Cyrus Spitama is one of my favorite characters in fiction. Imagine being the grandson of Zoroaster, the uncle of Democritus, the son-in-law of Ajatashatru, the childhood friend and confidante of Xerxes. Imagine traveling to India in the 5th century B.C. and meeting Buddha. Later, traveling to Cathay and meeting Lao Tzu and Confucious. This is pure joy of the imagination. For more fun, read it while you read The Histories
Kevin Cole
Apr 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
A huge book. Big story. I don't think it works 100%, which breaks my heart, but those things that are good are very lovely indeed. The language is smooth and pretty, without gushing.
The best part: Vidal portrays the Ancient Greeks as the opposite of everything we've been taught.
Worst part: I really had to force myself to believe the protagonist was a devout Zoroastrian. He just never really seemed to be.
But I think I'm changing my mind on that, having read it a fourth time.
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Eugene Luther Gore Vidal was an American writer known for his essays, novels, screenplays, and Broadway plays. He was also known for his patrician manner, Transatlantic accent, and witty aphorisms. Vidal came from a distinguished political lineage; his grandfather was the senator Thomas Gore, and he later became a relation (through marriage) to Jacqueline Kennedy.

Vidal ran for political office twi
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“In fact, life itself is a contradiction if only because birth is the direct cause, in every single case, of death” 15 likes
“I say his version because there is no such thing as a true account of anything. Each sees the world from his own vantage point. Needless to say, a throne is not the best place from which to view anything except the backs of prostrate men.” 5 likes
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