The Dream of Scipio

The Dream of Scipio[EPUB] ✻ The Dream of Scipio Author Iain Pears – Three narratives set in the fifth fourteenth and twentieth centuries all revolving around an ancient text and each with a love story at its center are the elements of this ingenious novel a follow up Three narratives set in the fifth fourteenth and twentieth centuries all revolving around an ancient text and each with a love story at its center are the elements of this ingenious novel a follow up to the bestselling An Instance Of The FingerpostMay well be the best historical mystery ever written proclaimed The The Dream Kindle - Sunday Boston Globe about Iain Pears's An Instance of the Fingerpost while Booklist called its publication a major literary event Iain Pears's international bestseller was greeted with front page reviews A crafty utterly mesmerizing intellectual thriller The Washington Post Book World named a New York Times Notable Book and hailed as a Book to Remember by the New York Public Library Now he returns with a greatly anticipated novel that is so brilliantly constructed the author himself describes it as a complexity The centuries are the fifth the final days of the Roman Empire; the fourteenth the years of the Black Death; and the twentieth World War II The setting for each is the same Provence and each has at its heart a love story The narratives intertwine seamlessly but what joins them thematically is an ancient text The Dream of Scipio a work of neo Platonism that poses timeless philosophical uestions What is the obligation of the individual in a society under siege What is the role of learning when civilization itself is threatened whether by acts of man or nature Does virtue lie in engagement or in neutrality Power without wisdom is tyranny; wisdom without power is pointless warns one of Pears's characters. Rating 35 of fiveThe Publisher Says In The Dream of Scipio the acclaimed author of An Instance of the Fingerpost intertwines three intellectual mysteries three love stories�and three of the darkest moments in human history United by a classical text called The Dream of Scipio three men struggle to find refuge for their hearts and minds from the madness that surrounds themin the final days of the Roman Empire in the grim years of the Black Death and in the direst hours of World War IIMy Review Pears explores well trodden ground herewhat is love how does love cause us to act outside our own best interests what does loyalty mean in the end what relationship does the world have to the divinethrough the lives and acts of three men widely separated in time though united by the existence of a manuscript called The Dream of Scipio written by one and read by the other two The writer is Manlius Hippomanes Roman aristocrat and chaste lover of the Alexandrine philosopheress Sophia; the manuscript is his final love offering to the goddess of his idolatry given after his faux conversion to Christianity which he undertakes in order to organize the salvation of his beloved Provence In the time of the Papal Babylonian Captivity also that of the Black Death poet Olivier de Noyes discovers this manuscript reads and fails to understand it and consults Jewish philosopher Levi ben Gershon to come to terms with the many subtelties lost between the Roman days and his own degenerate Christian era; thus comes Olivier to his fatal love for Jew Rebecca And in the modern age Julien Barneuve French flaneur and Vichy government fonctionnaire writes draft after draft of his response to Manlius's manuscript thinking all the while that he's analyzing and understanding the life of Olivier de Noyes the object of his studiesAll ends badly for each of these men their lives their loves their very cultural roots are torn up and grosser and grosser perversions of right and good thinking and living fueled explicitly by Christians and their revolting religion take hold and choke reasonWell no one can say it's not a subject I relate to and support Too bad it's such a mess The task of keeping three stories aloft while making sure that each is adding to the others is a daunting one I don't think Pears did an especially good job of it The transitions between narratives all in third person limited PoV are not keyed to anything that I can discern I readily acknowledge that I could simply lack the cultural referents andor the subtlety of mind to recognize them I simply found the movement through time to be jarring and poorly handledBut overall this cautionary tale is one well worth considering The role of faith in the decline of common sense in the public discourse is readily seen in our own time and the horrifying resultsteenagers bullied to death consenting adults prevented from exercising their civil rights because of some ancient and culture specific divine law irrelevant to modern timessurround us daily Human beings cannot be trusted with piety It's not something that becomes us as a species It's uite the opposite of its stated goal is piety Instead of creating peace and harmony it creates hatred and judgment It certainly does so in me And I am not a remarkable human being but pretty darned average in my responses I don't like people who don't like meReligion sadly in the hands of human beings doesn't make that problem better but rather creates a horrible echo chamber for the least worthy and most common feelings to be fed back upon themselves Woe betide those who try to stand against this noisy tidePears points up the futility of this while making sure we understand its absolute necessityI wish I believed that reading this book would change hearts and minds so I could yodel a call to read it NOW from the housetops It's too rareified too precious to make a general audience sit up and take notice And it's not well enough executed to become the coffee table adornment of the socially pretentious reader either sohere it is Read it if you agree already if not don't botherAnd isn't that the saddest sentence ever This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 30 Unported License This book tells the three most tragic and beautiful stories I have ever read Each takes place in Avignon but in a different era of crisis the loss of Gaul from the Roman Empire the Black Death arriving during the split in the Roman Church and the Occupation in WWII Each successive narrator is aware of his predecessors respects them and wishes to understand them to better handle themselves in their own time of crisis and to better serve the incredible women they love I think only one of them succeeds in being a truly great man and that while it is never didactic in any way there is a clear moral message delivered in this book It is about how to do the greatest good and I would love to discuss it with someone I bought and read The Dream of Scipio because I really enjoyed Pears's An Instance of the Fingerpost which was a thoroughly engaging immersive historical mystery In comparison The Dream of Scipio while ambitious just like its predecessor falls a little short The Dream of Scipio follows the life of three very different men all of whom lived in Provence in three different centuries during various times of great and important historical change Manlius Hippomanes a wealthy Roman aristocrat bound on preserving the Roman Empire from decay and destruction as Gaul is lost to the Visigoths; Manlius is the author of The Dream of Scipio a treatise on his decisions taken during that fateful period Hundreds of years later Manlius's writings are discovered by Olivier de Noyen a poet and a scholar in the service of a Papal Cardinal in the mid 1300's when the Black Death killed one third of all population in Europe Olivier's poems are discovered by Julien Barneuve a classics scholar in the middle of the 20th century as France fell to the Nazis during the Second World War Each of these men has been placed in history's most tragic and defining moments; and each of them is powerfully hopelessly and fatally in loveThis is not an uplifting book to read Everybody in this novel is dead the book begins with Julien's death in a fire and both Manlius and Oliver have been turned to dust centuries before he was even born Jewish suffering is a common theme and the book could have just as well been titled antisemitism throughout the ages; tracing the roots of the great tragedy of the 20th century all the way back to the early pogroms Each of the protagonists faces a difficult choice with no clear good outcome; and their choices permeate throughout the centuries influencing lives of three seemingly disconnected and distant persons However all that said the novel is not as effective as Fingerpost the set up is intricate and the narrative switches constantly between the three characters which will make it hard to keep up for some readers as there are no chapter breaks in the three parts of the text I think that the structure of Fingerpost each narrator having his own separate section offered a specific advantage the setting for the book could have been established in much greater detail In comparison the three periods of France in The Dream of Scipio look awfully pale there is just enough detail for us to know in which period the said section is taking place but only barely I wished to be fully transported into the time and place as was the case with Fingerpost but unfortunately it didn't happen And since we know from the beginning that every protagonist of the book is dead the novel lacks the sense of mystery that Pears's earlier book had in spadesIn Pears's credit this might not have been his intention in the first place rather he might have wanted to create a complex and byzantine book which would raise important philosophical uestion can you preserve civilization with barbarism? What is the price we are willing to pay for our emotions and ultimately what is the meaning of life itself? These are good and important uestions and this is a less mystery driven often diffcult but ultimately interesting book Still I'd recommend readers interested in Pears to start with reading An Instance of the Fingerpost Iain Pears is everybody's fantasy of the ultimate history teacher At least for people whose fantasies extend to history teachers His popular mysteries so intricately woven from the threads of the past have given the genre class and intellectual depth than it's ever had His latest novel The Dream of Scipio is another category buster a work of such philosophical and cultural complexity that its greatest mystery is How can Pears know so much?Pears's canvas has never been larger Western culture or his concerns profound What is civilization? Summarizing this complicated story risks intimidating readers away but while it's good to be prepared for some work this is another wildly entertaining novelHe follows three historians in Provence at three moments when Western civilization seemed ready to shatter Manlius Hippomanes the Bishop of Vaison who struggles to slow the fall of Rome in the 5th century Olivier de Noyen a poet and collector of manuscripts who serves Cardinal Ceccani during the Black Death of the 14th century Julien Barneuve a classical historian who reluctantly works for the French government after the Nazi occupation in the 20th centuryPears has constructed a kind of literary Rubik's Cube spinning these stories through each other in short chapters that produce fascinating patterns and parallels All three men are captivated by the Neoplatonic philosophy of Sophia a stoic Greek woman whose father was literally killed by the fall of Rome when the ceiling of his classroom collapsedAt a time when classical philosophy is fighting weakly against the onslaught of Christian dogma Sophia serves as Manlius's mentor Even after his conversion a merely political declaration Sophia struggles to instill the logic of her ancient virtue As a show of reverence Manlius composes a dialogue called The Dream of Scipio He hopes to demonstrate to his teacher how well he understands her radical notion that the soul is a reflection of the divine trapped in a material body eager to reunite after a journey of understandingOne of the dazzling pleasures of this novel is Pears's ability to follow the bumblebee flight of an idea through the ravages of time At his death Bishop Manlius's scandalous library is burned to protect his reputation but The Dream of Scipio survives mistaken for a Christian text It's transferred to a church archive where it sits for 300 years until that library too burns But before that disaster The Dream is transcribed badly so that Olivier de Noyen a clerical courtier in the 14th century can make a copy of it that ends up in the Vatican library where Julien Barneuve translates it again as the Nazis destroy EuropeHow each of these men uses the wisdom of Sophia to respond to their different though eually terrifying circumstances provides the intellectual axis that runs through the novel But each story also revolves around a delicate romance rendered impossible by the crisis of the day Sophia for instance is too removed from this world to give her heart to Manlius and in any case his political expediency repels her In the 14th century as the plague dissolves bodies and morals Olivier falls in love with a servant girl and in the 20th century Julien is captivated by a Jewish painter Pears handles these relationships like everything in this novel with extraordinary delicacy capturing the full tragedy and beauty of thwarted affectionEach era is unimaginably different from the other and yet in each virtue is tested in remarkably similar ways Again and again anti Semitism serves as the dry timber for a resulting holocaust Manlius Olivier and Julien so unlike in position and knowledge must choose between their responsibility to those around them and their duty to those who will come after them even in the twilight of civilization when it seems likely that no one will come after them at allAs the barbarians threaten to invade Manlius reassures a nervous friend We are the civilized world you and I As long as we continue to stroll through my garden arm in arm civilization will continue But 1500 years later as German tanks grind toward the same spot Julien takes a much proactive view Civilization needs to be nurtured cosseted and protected from those who would damage it It needs constant attentionBy the end of this remarkable novel all three men find the problem of preserving the best of their worlds vastly complicated than they ever imagined What keeps this cerebral story from pixelating into abstraction though is Pears's bifocal vision an ability to perceive the precise details of ordinary life and the broad sweep of history with eual clarityThere's something sad and fascinating about his God's eye view of how documents survive or don't how history is recorded or lost how truth is preserved or perverted Each of these three story lines is so compelling that every break inspires a little regret that you have to leave one and a little thrill that you get to rejoin anotherCivilization survives or revives in every case but the hideous cost detailed here leaves little solace This is a novel for our time about all time Those who ignore Iain Pears are doomed to repeat the pasthttpwwwcsmonitorcom20020530p1 So the other day Yann and I were talking about food as one does here and the in laws The conversation centered around the kiwi uestion which is as followsI do not particularly like kiwis but neither do I particularly dislike them I am happy to eat a kiwi which is placed in front of me without objection or disgust but I do not necessarily take great pleasure in eating them either They're fine They're moyen They're edible but I wouldn't cross the street for one I am unable to successfully communicate this position to my mother in law who dedicates considerable time to spoiling us both particularly on the food front She continues to think I don't like kiwi and that I should never have to eat one having only and always things I like better to eat they are legion In discussing the kiwi uestion with Yann he suggested that this is perhaps a small but important cultural difference He argues that the French dedicated to good food and non puritanical about the harmless pleasures of the body see no reason why each and every thing you eat should not fall well above the limit of it's okay but not my favorite and belong instead to the category YUM That in fact I should not have to eat kiwi when so many better options are available That meh may not be the same as disgusting but it's nonetheless not good enough And indeed leaving aside the case of finishing something so as to not waste food which I do think is a virtue I think he and his mother and the French are right and I and the diet shake drinking mcdonald's eating if you don't eat it now you'll see it again at goûter you'll eat it whether you like it or not choke it down already american model are perhaps wrong Why do I talk to you of kiwis and in laws? Because this book my friends is a kiwi And I think perhaps it is time that I integrated left book puritanism I've never left a book unfinished no matter how bad behind me and ditched all that is not wondrous delightful delicious I think it is time to take Iain Pears and uite possibly the bulk of mainstream historical fiction back to the library from whence it came admit I won't finish it blame neither the book nor myself and move on with my life I just counted and this year so far I have met 15 new authors all of whom have filled me with delight and happiness I think my time is perhaps better spent with them This was one of the most remarkable novels I have ever read The theme introduced is how one participates in epochs of change Set in three different time periods in Provence France the novel explores how three different men make decisions about the preservation of culture They are Manlius Hippomanes living in the decline of the Roman empire; Olivier de Noyen living during the Italian Renaissance with the exiled papacy and Julien Barneuve a scholar during the Nazi occupation I am familiar with the Dream of Scipio but the novel takes it's title from the reflections of Manlius who is cannonized as a Christian saint regardless of his neoplatonic loyalties Similarly his platonic or non consumated lover Sophia is also revered as a saint when she is acutally an echo of Hypatia the philosophical 'ueen' of Alexandria Their stories completely rearranged by Christianity are picked up by the manuscript hunter Olivier de Noyen His story is complicated by plague and persecution of heretics Jews etc I have not mentioned his false history lest I spoil the novel but at each opportunity we are confronted with the voids in documentation which would reveal the irrational side of history replete in the life of Julien Prejudice is also pilloried here; why wouldn't you want to poison the well if your family died because of the well owners actions The message here is the sympathy for persecuted people each of the dead has it's own face and web of relationships Each man makes choices based on his intellectual leanings and loyalties but is also influenced by the women they love Each decision leads to unexpected influences on the future Great read I am inspired to return to rereading the Instance of a Fingerpost by the same author and to seek out his other works Some books we read for pleasure some for intrigue some for thought provoking stimulus Given the nature of this book three interwoven stories across three time periods fall of the roman empire the black plague in 1350s and WWII France I find it reuired a lot of concentration especially during my early morning commute and late at night Occasionally I'd have to back track a few pages to figure out where some character or detail first appeared not easy to do when the stories change every two paragraphs and this from a former academic The stories and time periods are fascinating and neo platonism is sprinkled throughout but I felt no real enlightenment on issues of Anti Semitism nor felt it was true that christianity was simply barbaric and blind faith this in the late Roman Empire after Christians had been persecuted for years I guess what I'm saying is that complicated things like socio religious even artistic belief systems set in a historical time period were presented as too black and white Bottom line I enjoyed the cleverness of connecting the 3 stories but this book fell flat for me at times This is that rare thing a book I gave up on I realised after 100 pages or so that I was actually dreading reading it a disappointment as I loved An Instance of the Fingerpost A Novelby the same author Beautiful book that deals mainly with the uestion of how to preserve civilisation set in various times of great trouble disease war and stress The conclusion or essence of the book and an excerpt that stuck with me I found on page 370 371 when Julien talks to Marcel during WWIII thought in this simple contrast between the civilised and the barbaric but I was wrong It is the civilised wo are truly barbaric and the Germans are merely the supreme expression of it They are our greatest achievement They are building a monument which will never be dismantled What they are doing goes far beyond the war Something unparalleled in human history The ultimate achievement of civilisation Just think about it How do you annihilate so many people You need contributions to so many uarters Scientists to prove Jews are inferior; theologians to provide the moral tone Industrialists to build the trains and the camps Technicians to design the guns Administrators to solve the vast problems of identifying and moving so many people Writers and artists to make sure nobody notices or cares Hundreds of years spent honing skills and developing techniues have been necessary before such a thing can even be imagined let alone put into effect And now is the moment Now is the time for all the skills of civilisation to be put to use Some interesting facts concerning this booK1 According to Wikipedia The Dream of Scipio Latin Somnium Scipionis written by Cicero is the sixth book of De re publica and describes a fictional dream vision of the Roman general Scipio Aemilianus set two years before he commanded at the destruction of Carthage in 146 BCE2 Some critics consider Raphael's painting Vision of a Knight to be a depiction of Scipio's DreamThemis Athena wrote a great review about this book

The Dream of Scipio PDF Ö The Dream  Kindle -
  • Paperback
  • 416 pages
  • The Dream of Scipio
  • Iain Pears
  • English
  • 07 April 2016
  • 9781573229869