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A vivid and erudite ancient trilogy by Jacek Bocheński

 

Bocheński puts in his book an enormous passion and extreme

kindness – and a bit of impatience with the eternal comedy

of human endeavours to gain power and divinity.

Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz

Jacek Bocheński is an excellent symbol of the uninterrupted

tradition of an intellectual who announces to subsequent

rulers that he disapproves of the system.

Adam Michnik, “Gazeta Wyborcza“

The entire book boils and bubbles.

“Życie Warszawy”

 “The Divine Julius”, “Naso the poet”, “Tiberius Caesar”

Jacek Bocheński, Boski Juliusz, novel, 2009 (first publ. 1961), 208 pages; Nazo poeta, novel, 2009 (first publ. 1969), 272 pages; Tyberiusz Cezar, novel, 2009; 250 pages.

It is a gripping historical trilogy written by a great Polish writer and translator of Roman literature – Jacek Bocheński. Those, who claim that writing about Caesar, Ovid or Tiberius is safe, are mistaken. Bocheński met the fate of ancient authors – attempts were made to efface his existence as the writer and remove his books from libraries. Fortunately these attempts were not successful.

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"The Divine Julius: Notes of an Antiquarian" – a vividly written half essay, half portrait of Julius Caesar, the ruler of Ancient Rome. A penetrating study of human character wasted by either a lust for power and fear or – on the other hand – a desire to be left alone. Because people will accept every form of power as long as they can sleep, earn money, have fun and rest. Thanks to the author’s mastery and subtlety the story has a universal meaning, current wherever and whenever a dictatorship is born.

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"Naso the Poet" – a novel based on the events from the life of the greatest lyrical poet of Ancient Rome. Bocheński focuses on the Ovid’s mysterious exile. Nobody knows why the poet fell from the emperor’s grace. Was it because of his frivolous works, a courtly scandal or as a result of a political scheme? With passion and erudition the author reminds his readers that ancient history carries on until today, because the world wants to be deceived. And it will be deceived.

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"Tiberius Caesar" – the latest essay-novel started by Bocheński in the 70s. Guided by the author we tour Capri Island where Tiberius – a ruler who arouses controversy until now – lived and died. Following the steps of the emperor we imperceptibly move to ancient times. We participate in the lives of the rulers, family and political crimes and schemes. The author quotes the works of Tacitus and Suetonius but continually refers to contemporary times. The ancient world and the one around us intermingle in a very intimate relation. It is an erudite, inspiring and extremely interesting journey in time, space and imagination.

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Jacek Bocheński (b. July 29, 1926) – a splendid writer, essayist, journalist, translator of German and Roman literature. He was an opposition activist, co-founder and editor of an independent underground magazine “Zapis”. A key figure of anti-communist Polish culture, he was punished for his choices with a ban to publish. His works have been translated into German, French, Russian, Hungarian, Slovak and Estonian. He lives in Warsaw, Poland.

czwartek, 26 listopada 2009, jacekbochenski

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