Summer 1955 • Vol. XVII No. 3 Book Reviews |

Historical Fiction

Hadrian's Memoirs by Marguerite Yourcenar. Farrar, Straus and Young. $4.00. Few minds work easily when they take their material from Greece or Rome. We know too much and too little. Ancient Egypt has no prepossession of our imagination and Thomas Mann can elaborate myths which encounter only natural resistance. But the eroded residue of our tedious and forgotten classical studies, the shabby symbols such as "Cæsar" or "Helen," shake their dust over our response to any reworking of the later age. We demand a conformity to something already worn out; the drawings must emulate the plaster casts of our private museums. Although Shakespeare and Bernard Shaw succeeded in transferring this material to the stage, each in the language of his time, novelists usually offend us when their characters talk. The rhythms of conversation betray the author's time, which is not ours nor, we presume, that of his story. Nobody has ever had a more intelligent respect for departed heroes than Lan

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Honest Gide

By Lawrence Leighton

Hadrian's Memoirs by Marguerite Yourcenar. Farrar, Straus and Young. $4.00. Few minds work easily when they take their material from Greece or Rome. We know too much and too little. […]

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