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September 04, 2004

Pompeii

I picked up Robert Harris' Pompeii after enjoying Fatherland, Enigma and Archangel. This is yet another of his novels I wish I had written myself. The inevitable vulcanology lesson is worth the read but I was more struck by how absolutely contemporary in many respects was life in Roman Campania of the first century. There is the (glaring) fact of slavery but otherwise Harris manages to present a story on a human scale despite the difference of two-thousand years and the disaster we know is coming and the characters cannot. I found that having read the book I could go to websites showing the streets of Pompeii and recognize landmarks without having visited the place. Most impressive.

This is also the first I learn Pliny the Elder found time to be praefect of Classis Praetoria Misenensis, the Roman fleet at Misenum. This letter from Pliny the Younger to the historian Tacitus includes spoilers (or rather, spoliatori).

Posted by Ghost of a flea at September 4, 2004 09:17 AM

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