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The Ides of March
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November 2018: Literary Fiction > The Ides of March / Thornton Wilder - 2** (HONORING JOLENE)

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message 1: by Book Concierge (last edited Nov 30, 2018 02:34PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5645 comments The Ides of March by Thornton Wilder
The Ides Of March – Thornton Wilder

In this work of historical fiction, Wilder uses a combination of letters, diary entries and official documents to tell the story of the last year of Julius Caesar’s life.

Thank heavens I already knew the basic outline of this story. It was simply torture to read. Wilder divides the novel into four “books.” But the time frames overlap. For example, book one begins with a letter dated Sep 1 (45 BC), includes later entries marked “written the previous spring", has a memo dated Sep 30 near the end, followed by two undated notes, and a final document “written some fifteen years after the preceding.” Then we move on to Book Two, which begins with a letter dated Aug 17 (45 BC). S*I*G*H

The second difficulty I had was with the names / relationships. They frequently use nick names or code names when trying to ensure secrecy from prying eyes, should a letter fall into the wrong hands. THEY know who they refer to, but this reader was frequently confused.

And the third reason I found this so challenging are the many asides / footnotes / remarks that the author inserts. For example, in Book I, in the middle of a rather long “historical document” the author writes: Here follows the passage in which Cicero discusses the possibility that Marcus Junius Brutus may be Caesar’s son. It is given in the document which opens Book IV..

Now, I appreciate Wilder’s writing, and there were times in the book that I was completely engaged in the story. I was fascinated to read of the intrigue and espionage, the role of Cleopatra, etc. But on the whole … well I think I had more “fun” translating Cicero’s oration against Cataline when I studied Latin in high school (and I hated that).

LINK to my review

message 2: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 5521 comments I read this in high school, shortly after reading Shakespear's Julius Caesar.

I was so impressed with his use of letters and documents, it is something which I hadn't experienced before.

To this day, though if I read that a book is done in epistolary form, I hesitate reading it.

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