This is an amazing but, let it be said, very difficult novel. The whole novel consists of the dying Virgil discussing his life work with himself. The novel is divided into four parts, named for the four elements. The second part, Fire , shows the poet in a fevered state during his final night and the images that come back from the past. Earth , the third part, has Virgil, the man, arguing against the Emperor, representative of the state, that he has a right to destroy his own work. The final section is called Ether and brings us the death of the poet.
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Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. The Death of Virgil by Hermann Broch ,. Jean Starr Untermeyer Translator. It is the reign of the Emperor Augustus, and Publius Vergilius Maro, the poet of the Aeneid and Caesar's enchanter, has been summoned to the palace, where he will shortly die.
Out of the last hours of Virgil's life and the final stirrings of his consciousness, the Austrian writer Hermann Broch fashioned one of the great works of twentieth-century modernism, a book that emb It is the reign of the Emperor Augustus, and Publius Vergilius Maro, the poet of the Aeneid and Caesar's enchanter, has been summoned to the palace, where he will shortly die.
Out of the last hours of Virgil's life and the final stirrings of his consciousness, the Austrian writer Hermann Broch fashioned one of the great works of twentieth-century modernism, a book that embraces an entire world and renders it with an immediacy that is at once sensual and profound.
Begun while Broch was imprisoned in a German concentration camp, The Death of Virgil is part historical novel and part prose poem - and always an intensely musical and immensely evocative meditation on the relation between life and death, the ancient and the modern.
Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published January 15th by Vintage first published More Details Original Title. Augustus , Publius Vergilius Maro. Rome Italy Brindisi , 19 Italy. Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Death of Virgil , please sign up. Vergil struggles out of his sickbed at night, goes to the window to observe the heavens, the Himmelsverborgenheiten Mark Hebwood Oh dear It sounds as if this word was especially made up for the occasion.
You know how inventive German can be in the construction of composit …more Oh dear You know how inventive German can be in the construction of composite words that do not really exist but most people would understand. A native speaker might sense more than know what the word means, it is itself a form of poetry, it carries meaning like perfume carries a scent. I just googled this and it appears that the expression is used in the context of Vergil's last hour, who, in death, is denied to see infinity and whose gaze is blocked by a crystal barrier of Himmelsverborgenheiten.
So it means "celestial stuff that is hidden" but I acknowledge that does not sound very poetic. See 2 questions about The Death of Virgil…. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 4. Rating details. More filters.
Sort order. Start your review of The Death of Virgil. Dec 13, Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing. The novel is written in a very convoluted modernistic manner. He had been a peasant from birth, a man who loved the peace of earthly life, one whom a simple secure life in a village community would have fitted, one for whom because of his birth it would have been seemly to be allowed, even to be forced to abide there, but who in conformity with a higher destiny was not allowed to be free from nor free to stay at home; this destiny had pushed him out from the community into the nakedest, direst, most savage loneliness of the human crowd, it had hunted him from the simplicity of his origins, hunted him abroad into the open, to ever-increasing multiplicity, and if thereby something had become greater and broader, it was only the distance from real life, verily it was this distance alone which had grown.
Only at the edge of his fields had he walked, only at the edge of his life had he lived. He had become a rover, fleeing death, seeking death, seeking work, fleeing work, a lover and yet at the same time a harassed one, an errant through the passions of the inner life and the passions of the world, a lodger in his own life.
The poet passes away — his poems stay. I was immediately captivated by the first section Water - The Arrival of The Death of Virgil , with its masterful, lyrical prose: even in translation it flows naturally, the writing cascading like a poem bravo, by the way, to the translator of this novel - I cannot image a more difficult work to reshape into another language.
What follows does not deliver to the promise of this opening: Fire - The Descent abandons the external world, turning inwards to the tortured mind of the declining Virgi I was immediately captivated by the first section Water - The Arrival of The Death of Virgil , with its masterful, lyrical prose: even in translation it flows naturally, the writing cascading like a poem bravo, by the way, to the translator of this novel - I cannot image a more difficult work to reshape into another language.
What follows does not deliver to the promise of this opening: Fire - The Descent abandons the external world, turning inwards to the tortured mind of the declining Virgil. In this dark, furious dreamscape, we stand upon ever shifting terrain, never in control, unable to separate the real from the imagined. From this foundation rises Earth - The Expectation , which in the dialogue with Augustus - one that discusses the nature of art, power, death, glory and duty - that forms the heart of the novel, returns us to the world of the real, though the fantastic is close at hand.
Finally, in Air - The Homecoming , all fetters are removed, and the mind soars where it may. For all its ambition, much of The Death of Virgil is undeniably dense, abstruse, and difficult to follow. Its philosophy, though rich, is loosely articulated and hidden in language that tends to obscure meaning in ambiguity and tautology. What really elevates this novel is its aspiration, its experimentation, its history: the echo of the experience of Broch's flight from the Nazis with his own manuscript is ever-present, lending the work an additional gravity that roots it deeply in the dark truths of the modern world, even when the narrative seems to have lost all grip on reality.
Though it is inconsistent, and difficult, this late work of modernism is notable for what it strives to be, for what it challenges, and for the potentials it reveals in the literary form. The breadth of its ideas and the corresponding lack of structure make for a challenging read, but a rich source for contemplation.
View all 6 comments. Aug 20, knig rated it liked it Shelves: , dream-like , do-you-take-me-for-an-idiot. So, I finished. What I want to know is, where is my prize? This is definitely a book that needs to come with a merit certificate at the finish line.
Which apparently reads as a poem in German, and a labour of, well, labour in English. As is my wont, I approached with no background ammo: let the text speak, hear, hear. Right at the beginning I floundered: an adulat So, I finished. In depth, and existentially. It jarred. Evil is a conscious choice whereas crowds have no consciousness.
Quick look up: and yes. Broch wrote DOV whilst incarcerated by the Nazis and suffering terrible deprivations. Herein lies the greatest problem with this tome. Effectively, he rewrites Virgil through the kaleidoscope of 20c mantra. At first cautiously introducing themes of rebirth and existential extrapolations on time and being lifted directly from Heidegger , and finally abandoning all subtlety and throwing in the Messianic birth to a Virgin and the ensuing holy trinity as a prophecy, 20 years before the birth of Christ and on page Like I said: jarrrrrrrr.
He is. But lets not quibble. OK, so Virgil is a randomly chosen vehicle for existential angst. So, what have we got? Well, holy shmoly. But so. At the top of the pyramid I put sfumato. Equally opposing forces drawn kicking and screaming into an unholy unity. Or rather, Broch fails to sew it all up together. And subsequently, here comes Plotia. Now, an aside. Virgil seems, by all counts, to have been a homosexual individual. He allegedly had an affinity to a woman called Plotia, but refused carnal relations with her.
And he also worshiped his mother. I say Platonic because Broch says it. Can he possibly not know what platonic love is?
Now, I do find the fleshless union with Plotia, along with part 4, the Homecoming, to be the most lyrical and magical renditions in the book, but still. So finally, why doth one need a prize for ploughing through this black lava flow of a narrative? No wonder it defeats many, many readers. Of course, what with me being older and wiser, I know exactly how to handle this type of situation.
Death of Virgil
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The Death of Virgil
Welcome sign in sign up. Formally The Death of Virgil has been described more or less aptly by a number of admirers. Waidson estimates it at eighteen hours: to me both estimates seem highly conservative. Two questions are provoked by the descriptions I have just quoted. Could it be that what a flow of lyrical speculation needs is precisely to be interrupted from time to time by the unlyrical and the known?
The Modern Novel
Broch wrote this novel Gorgeous prose -- I could see everything before me, both real and surreal. I didn't understnd the stream of consciousness, but the narrative concerned Virgil's wanting to burn his ms. The last part was Virgil crossing the Styx.
Look Inside. Begun while Broch was imprisoned in a German concentration camp, The Death of Virgil is part historical novel and part prose poem — and always an intensely musical and immensely evocative meditation on the relation between life and death, the ancient and the modern. He gradually increased his involvement in the intellectual life of Vienna, becoming acquainted with Ludwig Wittgenstein, Sigmund Freud, and Robert Musil, among… More about Hermann Broch. Add to Cart. Also available from:.