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Description - The Dream of Scipio by Iain Pears

Set in Provence at three different critical moments of Western Civilisation - the collapse of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, the Black Death in the fourteenth, and the Second World War in the twentieth - The Dream of Scipio follows the fortunes of three men: Manlius Hippomanes, a Gallic aristocrat obsessed with the preservation of Roman civilisation, Olivier de Noyen, a poet, and Julien Barneuve, an intellectual who joins the Vichy government. The story of each man is woven through the narrative, linked by the classical text that gives the book its title, and by each man's love for an extraordinary woman. Dense, dark, erudite and yet, like An Instance of the Fingerpost, utterly compelling, The Dream of Scipio confirms Iain Pears as one of Britain's most imaginative novelists.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099284581
ISBN-10: 0099284588
Format: Paperback
(198mm x 129mm x 25mm)
Pages: 400
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 3-Apr-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - The Dream of Scipio by Iain Pears

UK Kirkus Review » In 1999, An Instance of the Fingerpost provided Iain Pears with a critically acclaimed bestseller, and devotees of his ingenious style of historical mystery have had a long wait for this equally imaginative follow-up novel. Pears is also renowned for his extensive writings on both art history and history, and he uses his expertise to tie together this ambitious tale. Spanning the centuries between the dying days of the Roman Empire and the Second World War, it's set in Provence, and concentrates on slowly revealing and developing the three main characters, ensuring they can always rely on our sympathy. The dangers and madness of love sweep across the years, connecting the three, as does the classical text after which this book is named. Manlius Hippomanes, a fifth-century French aristocrat, despairs of a world where men come to power who have never even heard of Plato, as the growth of Christianity destroys the intellectual heritage of paganism. Eventually he decides to become a Christian himself - not out of belief, but in a last-ditch attempt to save something of the past. Whether dilettante or miracle worker, his impact touches the honest, hopeful 14th-century poet, Olivier de Noyen, and percolates down to Julien Barneuve, a French intellectual in the days of the Vichy government. Eternal philosophical questions taunt them, whether they are surrounded by the pleasures of a luxurious Roman villa, the wonders of the papal palace in Avignon, or even on a Mediterranean cruise where a young Julien fears falling in love. Dealing with the contrasting historical backdrops with obvious ease, Pears's attention to detail is faultless, and he invests each page with a rich seam of quality. Although the story takes on such vast and weighty matters as religion, philosophy, war and corruption, the fact that the reader continues to turn each page with such eager relish is a fitting testament to this compelling work of fiction. Well worth the wait. (Kirkus UK)


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Author Biography - Iain Pears

Iain Pears was born in Coventry in 1955. Educated at Wadham College, Oxford, he has worked as a journalist, an art historian and a television consultant. He is the author of several highly praised detective novels, a book of art history, countless articles on artistic, financial and historical subjects, An Instance of the Fingerpost and Stone's Fall.

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