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In the Shadow of Vesuvius: A Life of Pliny

Daisy Dunn



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01 July 2019
Biography: historical, political & military; Biography: literary; Literary studies: classical, early & medieval; History
Ash spewed into the sky. All eyes were on Vesuvius. Pliny the Elder sailed towards the phenomenon. A teenage Pliny the Younger waited. His uncle did not come back.

In a dazzling new literary biography, Daisy Dunn introduces Pliny the Younger, the survivor who became a Roman lawyer, senator, poet, collector of villas, curator of drains, and representative of the Emperor. He was confidant and friend to the great and good, an unparalleled chronicler of the Vesuvius catastrophe, and eyewitness to the terror of Emperor Domitian.

The younger Pliny was adopted by his uncle, admiral of the fleet and author of the Natural History, an extraordinary compendium of knowledge and the world's first full-length encyclopaedia. The younger Pliny inherited his uncle's notebooks and carried their pearls of wisdom with him down the years.

Daisy Dunn breathes vivid life back into the Plinys. Reading from the Natural History and the Younger Pliny's Letters, she resurrects the relationship between the two men to expose their beliefs on life, death and the natural world in the first century. Interweaving their work, and positioning the Plinys in relation to the devastating eruption, Dunn's biography is a celebration of two outstanding minds of the Roman Empire, and their lasting influence on the world thereafter. .
By:   Daisy Dunn
Imprint:   HARPER360
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 240mm,  Width: 159mm,  Spine: 33mm
Weight:   580g
ISBN:   9780008211097
ISBN 10:   0008211094
Pages:   320
Publication Date:   01 July 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Daisy Dunn is a classicist, art historian and cultural critic. She read Classics at Oxford, before winning a scholarship to the Courtauld and completing a doctorate in Classics and History of Art at UCL. She writes and reviews for a number of newspapers and magazines, and is editor of Argo, a Greek culture journal. Her first books, Catullus' Bedspread and The Poems of Catullus, were published in 2016.

Reviews for In the Shadow of Vesuvius: A Life of Pliny

`A fascinating, compelling and excellent biography of the two great Plinys of Ancient Rome, as well as a celebration of nature, a study of literature and the human soul, and a lens into Roman society itself ... This work of both scholarship and entertainment, arranged in Plinyesque seasons rather than strict chronology, is a delight that befits their high standards.' Simon Sebag Montefiore `Starts with an erupting volcano - and then gets more exciting. A wonderfully rich, witty, insightful and wide-ranging portrait of the two Plinys ... and their world.' Sarah Bakewell> 'Daisy Dunn's book is an absolute delight. Meticulously researched and beautifully crafted, it shines a clear beam of light into the private lives of Pliny the Elder and Younger.' Giles Milton `Immensely entertaining and readable .... Dunn has given us a delightful new biography ...Thoroughly recommended' Christopher Hart, Sunday Times `Never less than compelling ... Without ever veering into historical fiction, she consistently succeeds in bringing what might otherwise seem dusty and remote to vivid life ... A portrait of the Roman Empire that gives the reader something of the shiver down the spine that Herculaneum can inspire' - Tom Holland, Literary Review `It is a story ...retold with vivid flair...Dunn knits [the two Plinys'] lives together well and analyses the influence that they would have later on scholars from the Italian Renaissance to the English Romantic poets' - The Times `Daisy Dunn's nuanced biography breathes new life ... An evocative portrait of Renaissance men before the Renaissance' Nature `Daisy Dunn is to be congratulated ... judging by her work on Pliny, there can be few other Roman characters who would not come to life thanks to her discerning judgement, her eye for detail, her wide research and her lively pen' Catholic Herald

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