Fiction: The Death of Virgil, by Hermann Broch

The April challenge book. Certainly the toughest read so far, for both Dad and me.

The language is rich, gorgeous and elegaic; much like reading Virgil himself (or Homer. or Ovid). It’s dreamy and powerful and image-full. But…

Part 1: Interesting. Lovely imagery and prose. Nice.

Part 2: Interminable. Almost the death of ME, let alone Virgil. Sentences so long, you can’t remember where they began or if anything has even happened in them. And what? Did he just suggest burning the Aeneid? WHAT?!?!

Part 3: Hey, there’s some stuff happening again! Still a very high-toned literary experience, but now the drama with Octavian really pulls things along. Some very neat imagery, the landscape arising out of nothing (much easier to do in film than in prose). His yearning is so strong, you can really feel it. [According to Dad the slave boy and Plotia play a very similar role here to that of Jessica Lange in “All That Jazz.” I was then castigated for not having seen that recently enough to be able to agree (or not). p.s. just between you, world wide web, and me, I’m not even sure I’ve ever seen it all the way through!] Really enjoyable.

Part 4: Ugh, we’re back to part 2-like process again. Dad: “It’s like 2001 the Space Odyssey. At first it’s kinda cool and then after a while you just get really, really bored.” Me: Hard to know what’s happening here, when he’s actually dead, what is dream sequence vs. reality vs. post-mortem? (And in this part, hard to care. If this was written like Part 3, I’d be all over it!)

Glad to have read it, but certainly never going to need to read it again. Definitely a challenge.

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