Friday, November 22, 2013

They Review the Decline and Fall

There are many reviews of Edward Gibbon's magnum opus the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire on the net, though not as many as one will have for many modern but less influential books. This latter fact is explained by the eventuality that reading and then reviewing the Decline and fall is not everybody's cup of tea.

And perhaps it is because of that that if any one does take up the task of reviewing this magnificent book then the person ends up saying not merely meaningful but even profound things.

And that is a tribute to the genius of Gibbon.

Here is one review that yours truly just went through.
Reading a review of the Decline and Fall is in itself a rewarding and pleasant experience. If one can overlook the irony and the often stark nature of the events. Here are some comments on the review under consideration.

The review is inclined towards the sixth and final volume of the book. This tells us that the haggard reviewer, and it is not meant as a comment, has just managed the tedious journey of going through that complex text that covers thirteen centuries, moves at a breakneck speed, the narrative is full of irony and intricate play of words on the emotional and moral content. No mean task in itself. Of course one also has a sort of gratification of not being saddled with a pompous deceit who will spew verbosity for the effect without going through the pain, and hence devoid of the corresponding pleasure, of reading the text.

Out of several observations of the reviewer the paragraph on number of killings and corresponding depravity of the worst kind stands out as one is slowly eased into the horror and one suddenly develops a respect for the historian himself for deftly opening up the putrid nature of reality around us - even if a some millennia ago.

Here is my choice of the profundity in the review:

Despite the vast amounts of immorality that it records, the Decline and Fall is a profoundly moral work, deeply concerned with right and wrong, and the reader with an ear for irony can perceive Gibbon’s scathing condemnation of barbarity on most of the pages where such crimes and follies are recorded.
And others will find other instances.  The review is worth reading for getting yourself familiarized with the character of the book.