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The Glory of the Empire

Jean d’Ormesson | Translated by Barbara Bray | New York Review Books | May 3, 2016

The Glory of the Empire is the rich and absorbing history of an extraordinary empire, at one point a rival to Rome. Rulers such as Basil the Great of Onessa, who founded the Empire but whose treacherous ways made him a byword for infamy, and the romantic Alexis the bastard, who dallied in the fleshpots of Egypt, returned to save the Empire from civil war, and then retired “to learn to die,” come alive in The Glory of the Empire. Jean d’Ormesson also goes into the daily life of the Empire, its popular customs, and its contribution to the arts and the sciences.

But it is all fiction, a thought experiment worthy of Jorge Luis Borges, and in the end The Glory of the Empire emerges as a great shimmering mirage, filling us with wonder even as it makes us wonder at the fugitive nature of power and the meaning of history itself.

 

"D’Ormesson provides witty fictional documentation, parodies opinions of historians and literati (there is a one-line parody of Walt Whitman), borrows outrageously and has caught brilliantly the 'Where is Nineveh now?' tone of sunset reflection. A tour de force."—Kirkus Reviews

 

More information is available on the publisher's website.

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