Some Talk of Alexander: A Journey Through Space and Time in the Greek World by Frederick Raphael.
DESCRIPTION: Hardback with Dust Jacket: 336 pages. Publisher: Thames & Hudson; (2006). ISBN: 0500512884. Frederic Raphael’s vivid, far-reaching and often surprising take on the classical world will provoke, engage, and amuse every reader. From Helen of Troy to Marilyn Monroe; from Homer to Robert de Niro, “Some Talk of Alexander” is not only for the classicist. The history of the Olympic Games sits happily beside the jealous, vengeful, and frequently violent machinations of the gods, while the fate of mythological heroes and villains is as relevant and absorbing as the author’s reflections on modern Greece. Raphael’s theme is, above all, the interplay between myth and history, between politics and the theatre, and between philosophy, religion, and human behavior. This personal journey through history is enhanced by over one hundred well-chosen images, tempting and encouraging the reader to continue along the captivating path.
CONDITION: New, never read.
PLEASE SEE IMAGES BELOW FOR SAMPLE PAGES FROM INSIDE OF BOOK.
PLEASE SEE PUBLISHER, PROFESSIONAL, AND READER REVIEWS BELOW.
REVIEW: “Some Talk of Alexander” is a private odyssey through the art, poetry, politics, warfare, and the men and women of the Greek world. Raphael’s book is a deliberate amalgram, in which the interplay of myth and reason, high ideals and low cunning are seen to work together in the plaited texture of ancient society.
Taking examples from different times and places, Raphael depicts the genius and the folly, the heroism and the deviousness of the birthplace of European civilization. Having lived in the Cyclades in the 1960’s, he also recalls the harsh, idyllic life of a Greece untouched by mass tourism, and the infamous Colonels, whose modern tyranny ended in shambles and the return of democracy.
Frederic Raphael has written screenplays, novels, short-story collections, essays, and memoirs. He won an Oscar in 1965 for his sparkling screenplay “Darling”, and he has had great success with the films “Far from the Madding Crowd” and “Two for the Road” as well as the television series “The Glittering Prizes” and “After the War”.
REVIEW: Classicist, novelist, screenwriter, traveler, man of lesser extraordinaire, Frederic Raphael brings all his many-hued and manifold talents pointedly to bear in this tour-de-maximum-force around the literature and social foibles of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds. Not even the brightest flash and most dazzling sparkle of his style can obscure the book’s genuine learning and wisdom. Not a few will talk also of Frederic. [Paul Cartledge, Professor of Green History, University of Cambridge]
REVIEW: An irresistible blend of sex, politics, history and mythology, Frederic Raphael's vivid, far-reaching and often surprising take on the classical world will provoke, engage and amuse. Infused throughout with Raphael's characteristic dry humor, the details of mythological and historical personalities and events, along with the parallels of modern history, politics and society, make for an idiosyncratic and original exploration of the subject.
REVIEW: A personal journey through Greek history, juxtaposed with remarkable images that vividly depict, trace, and reinforce the art and life of the times. Do "the classics" still have relevance at the start of the twenty-first century? Or are they just an outdated repository of class vanity, racial prejudice, and pedantic obscurantism, rooted in abstruse texts and concerned almost entirely with the activities of dead white males in strange costumes? In this wise and witty work, Frederic Raphael springs to the defense of a much-maligned but bracingly elitist world. An erudite, wide-ranging, fluent, and original piece of writing, “Some Talk of Alexander” leads us from the personal experiences of the author in modern Greece into the rich store of Greek civilization: its art, politics, philosophy, mores, warfare, ethics, personal relationships, government, and literature. 106 illustrations.
REVIEW: Screenwriter, novelist and translator Raphael, who won an Oscar in 1965 for his screenplay for “Darling”, conducts a multi-faceted journey through ancient Greece. He regales us with well-known tales of Greek military leaders (Alexander, Pericles), playwrights (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides) and philosophers (Thales, Heraclitus, Plato, Aristotle). Using Aristophanes' comedy about Socrates, Clouds, Raphael observes that philosophy was more a subject of derision than praise until Athens fell apart politically.
The author demonstrates how deeply Greece influenced modern drama, Sartre's “The Flies” as a version of Euripides' “Orestes” for example, and argues that Menander's New Comedy provides the model for contemporary soap opera, with its "intricate joinery and stock characters”. Drawing on his own journeys to Greece, Raphael observes how little that country has changed over the centuries. For example, he compares the short-lived reign of the fifth-century B.C. Athenian aristocrat Aristeides with the short-lived coup in 1967 of the aristocrats known as the Colonels.
REVIEW: A lighthearted tour of Greek civilization and history, presented by the Oscar-winning screenplay writer for “Darling”, traces his personal experiences in modern Greece while offering depictions of the region's art, politics, government, and more. Exceptionally well-written and highly recommended!
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