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Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History
 
 
Author
Robert Hughes.
Publisher Vintage  
Format paperback
ISBN 9780375711688
Pages/Publication Date 498/2012
Daedalus Item Code 29384
This item is not available.
Description
In this final major work, the late art historian and critic Robert Hughes gives us a sparkling, sprawling history of Rome as city, as empire, and as an origin of Western art and civilization. Starting on a personal note, Hughes takes us to the Rome he first encountered in 1959 as a hungry 21-year-old fresh from Australia, and then spins back more than 2,000 years to the city's foundation, one mired in mythologies and superstitions that would inform Rome's development for centuries. From the beginning, Rome was a hotbed of power, overweening ambition, desire, political genius, and corruption. Hughes details the turbulent years that saw the formation of empire and the establishment of the sociopolitical system, along the way providing colorful portraits of such major figures as Julius Caesar, Marcus Aurelius, Nero, Caligula, Cicero, Martial, and Virgil. From the classical era, Hughes moves on to the rise of early Christianity, the brutality of the early Church, and eventually the Crusades. As one would expect, he lavishes plenty of critical attention on the Renaissance, providing a full survey of the architecture, painting, and sculpture that blossomed in Rome from the 14th through the 16th centuries, and shedding new light on old masters in the process. Hughes keeps the momentum going through the nationalistic turmoils of Italian independence and war against France, right into the 20th century, when Rome witnessed the rise and fall of Italian Fascism and Mussolini, and took on yet another identity in the postwar years as the fashionable city of "La Dolce Vita"—the Rome Hughes first encountered.

"Ever since Livy dipped his quill and Gibbon marked his proofs, histories of Rome have been a dime a dozen. But there is only one Robert Hughes—only one writer, it's safe to say, who would describe the ancient city as 'Calcutta on the Mediterranean' and then convince you of the rightness of that vision.... This is vintage Hughes, and reading his strenuous, argumentative, vitally impassioned prose you are reminded just how insipid, prim, and nervously conventional most history and art history writing is. Hughes could be writing about Lady Gaga's choice of nail polish or manuals of plumbing and it would still be tonic. In fact, being the kind of writer whose head—even when communing with Michelangelo—is never lost in the stars, he does write about Roman plumbing, and reminds us that the word itself has everything to do with the lead from which its engineering masterpieces were fashioned. So although the ostensible subject of his book is the Eternal City, the real tour d'horizon it offers is a walking tour of the hard-structured, brightly lit, and capacious expanse that is the Hughes brain. It's an organ that is Olympian—in that it can survey, in a unified vision, the rolling sweep of the centuries—but without any other sort of lofty detachment.... No one will put this book down feeling deprived of historical company, for it is essentially history as portrait gallery—almost all of it painted with unforgettable sharpness.... Without laboring the point, Hughes catches in this exhilarating, rambunctious book something that has eluded more solemnly exhaustive accounts."—Newsweek

 
You might also like:
A Brief History of the Private Lives of the Roman Emperors
Anthony Blond.
Studio: Robinson.   Format: paperback. ISBN: 9781845297640.  Daedalus Item Code: 21982
List Price: Import Sale Price: $5.98
 
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