Wednesday 21 November 2018

Rome in the Rain

As it will soon be the 25th anniversary of the death of Anthony Burgess, I have been rereading Beard’s Roman Women. One of his lesser known novels, but one of my favourite, in spite of having a rubbish title. Rome in the Rain, as Burgess would have preferred it, and which is the title used in most of its translations, is far better. In it, scriptwriter and new widower Ronald Beard is trying to rebuilt his life in Rome with his new, younger, Italian (and thus exotic) lover Paola, while (possibly) haunted by (the ghost of) his first wife Leonora. It’s a modern day telling of the myth of Orpheus, with literary references to Mary Shelley and her Frankenstein, Byron, the Holy Grail, and a lot of other things. It is a short novel that is nevertheless very dense. At its centre there is Rome, the ever decadent city that is also a gate to the Underworld as well as the crossroads where all civilisations join, clash and die.

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