A review of Bob Hughes’ new book on Rome. Looks fascinating; I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Fatal Shore’ and who could forget ‘The Shock Of The New’ or his quite open, right-to-his-face mocking of Jeff Koons in ‘American Visions’. His writing is muscular, vigorous, and interesting, never dull. So it will be worth a read I think.
As readers of Mr. Hughes’s earlier books well know, he is highly opinionated, especially on all matters aesthetic, and never pulls his punches. “We cannot make the mistake with Romans of supposing that they were refined, like the Greeks they envied and imitated,” he writes near the end of this volume. “They tended to be brutes, arrivistes, nouveaux-riches. Naturally, that is why they continue to fascinate us — we imagine being like them, as we cannot imagine being like the ancient Greeks. And we know that what they liked best to do was astonish people — with spectacle, expense, violence, or a fusion of all three.”
(Via New York Times.)