Saturday, April 21, 2007

Best "fictional tales rooted in history"

Anne Perry, who has just published We Shall Not Sleep, the fifth and final novel in her World War I series, named her five "favorite fictional tales rooted in history" for Opinion Journal.

Number One on her list:
I, Claudius by Robert Graves

One of the most extraordinary accomplishments in fiction based on history is Robert Graves's "I, Claudius." Graves wrote the "diaries" of the physically awkward and bookish Roman emperor Claudius in such a way that reading them is like spending the last hour of the evening listening to one's eccentric uncle talking candidly about how his day has been. Claudius speaks of the great figures of the Roman world 2,000 years ago as if we know them as well as he does. They are reduced from legend to humanity: immediate, vulnerable and very real. Claudius's forays into military tactics on the frontiers, political reform at home, and architecture and philosophy in general are the interests of an uncle we would never interrupt, for fear of hurting his feelings. Ultimately we become fascinated as well.
Read about the other four titles on Perry's list.

--Marshal Zeringue