Marguerite Yourcenar’s Hadrian: Writing the Life of a Roman Emperor
Available: January 2024© 2024
Imprint: University of Toronto Press
Series: Phoenix Supplementary Volumes
Page Count: 488 Pages
Illustrations: 4 b&w illustrations
Dimensions: 6.00 x 9.00
488 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 x 1.00 in, 4 b&w illustrations
Not Yet Published
Marguerite Yourcenar is best known as the author of the 1951 novel Mémoires d’Hadrien, her recreation of the life of the Roman emperor Hadrian. The work can be examined from the perspective of the issues raised by writing Roman imperial biography at large and the many ways in which Mémoires has a claim to historical authenticity.
In Marguerite Yourcenar’s Hadrian, Keith Bradley explains how Mémoires d’Hadrien came to be written, gives details on Yourcenar’s own biography, and describes some of the intricate historical problems that her novel’s portrait of Hadrian presents. He draws on Yourcenar’s correspondence, her interviews with journalists, and her literary corpus as a whole, emphasizing Yourcenar’s profound knowledge of the ancient evidence on which her life of Hadrian is based and exploiting a wide range of contemporary Yourcenarian criticism.
The book pays special attention to the methods by which Yourcenar believed Hadrian’s life history to be recoverable, compares examples of modern life-writing, and contrasts the procedures of conventional Roman biographers. Revealing how and why Mémoires d’Hadrien is as it is, Marguerite Yourcenar’s Hadrian illustrates how imaginative literary recreation is often little different from historical speculation.
List of Illustrations
2. Authenticity Pursued
3. Authenticity Filtered
4. The Rules of the Game
5. The Accession
7. The Jewish War
8. Rise and Fall
9. The Isle of Achilles