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I, Claudius and Claudius the God
Edited by Patrick Quinn
Imprint: Carcanet Fiction
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Hardback (356 pages)
(Pub. Nov 1998)
Out of Stock
These novels depict one of the strangest and most terrifying epochs in the history of Europe, as the Roman empire fell into the hands of cruel, mad, incompetent emperors: Tiberius, Caligula, Nero.
In these dangerous times, Graves's hero, the scholarly Claudius, isolated by a speech impediment and physical weakness, takes refuge in his reputation as a fool, in order to survive. He tells the story in the first person, until the first person is silenced and the final testimony is entrusted to others.
Despite his longing for a quiet life, Claudius's shrewdness and cunning, his understanding of the forces of history, even ironically his decency, lead him inexorably to an unwanted destiny as emperor and god.
These shocking and yet oddly comic novels depict the licentiousness and rapacity that triggered the power struggles of ancient Rome. Published in the 1934 as dark clouds once more gathered over the western world, they dramatise the always unresolved struggle between anarchy and social order, and in doing so explore the strength and limitations of the values of decency and reason when confronted by evil.
The novelist and critic RICHARD FRANCIS is Senior Lecturer in English and American Studies at the University of Manchester. His most recent award-winning novel is Taking Apart the Poco Poco. In his introduction to the Claudius novels, Dr Francis sets the books in the context of Graves's own work, considers its Roman history and psychology, and reflects more largely on the nature of the genre and on Robert Graves's central contribution to it.
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