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Amélie Nothomb

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Pour acheter Péplum

Title: Péplum
Author: Amélie Nothomb
Genre: Novel
Written: 1996
Length: 212 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Péplum - France
Péplum - Canada
Ritorno a Pompei - Italia

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Our Assessment:

B+ : an amusing consideration of the future and the past

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
L'Express B 19/9/1996 Olivier Le Naire

  From the Reviews:
  • "L'essentiel pour Amélie, comme pour son lecteur, est de se faire plaisir. Et l'on ne s'en prive pas, dans cet échange verbal sans doute trop long, mais drôle, enlevé, et même érudit, où les sophismes et les raisonnements les plus farfelus tournent au duel de cerveaux." - Olivier Le Naire, L'Express

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Once again Nothomb offers a first person narrative. In the hospital for an operation the narrator wakes to a scene that seems to be a dream. A figure calling himself Celsius (and describing himself as "the most brilliant mind of my generation") explains to her that though her last memory is of May 8, 1995 it is now, in fact, May 27, 2580.
       The bulk of the book consists of the conversation between Celsius and the narrator, introducing her to a very different new world. It is not an accident that the narrator has been summoned here, as it were. Celsius has a grander plan in mind, in which she plays a role. His main concern is, of all things, ancient (or not so ancient) Pompeii: though the narrator recalls that it was destroyed in 79 A.D., Celsius informs her that no such thing happened.
       Celsius is attempting to reshape history (as a bizarre sort of cultural conservation), and the narrator, by recounting his tale back in 1995 is to assist him -- leading to this very book. The super-intelligent (but by no means wise) Celsius finds an interesting foil in the narrator, who can't believe the situation she is in and can't believe the world Celsius describes. Nothomb has her fun in imagining the future, and she is clever enough to pull it off well. The bumbling intellect naturally by no means comes off well, and Nothomb shines an interesting light on culture, art, and even politics -- all of which look mighty different in this new world. All the while the doubting narrator (and reader) also wonder how to ascertain the truth of Celsius' claims.
       Nothomb handles dialogue well, though here, where much of the book is conversation (with neither description nor commentary), it can seem a bit much. Nevertheless, the exchanges are frequently amusing and often clever. A fun, fast read, with some interesting ideas.

Please note and consider that this review is based on the original (French) version of the novel.

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Péplum: Reviews: Amélie Nothomb: Other books by Amélie Nothomb under review: Books about Amélie Nothomb under review: Other books of interest under review:
  • See Index of French literature at the complete review

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About the Author:

       Belgian author Amélie Nothomb was born in Kobe, Japan, 13 August 1967.

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