Sunday, 23 December 2012

Book Review: Roman Tales

Roman Tales 
by Stendhal
Translated by Susan Ashe
Published by The Friday Project
Available in paperback and ebook

I thought Roman Tales would be a book that I might struggle with but it turns out I really enjoyed reading it.

Roman Tales brings together three of Stendhal's tales - The Abbess of Castro, Vittoria Accordamboni and The Cenci. This collection also includes accompanying essays by Charles Dickens and Percy Bysshe Shelley, for the first time in English. These stories were written almost 150 years ago and are historical tales about the 16th and 17th century way of life in Italy.

I thought the language would be 17th cenutry lingo and I would be sitting there flicking between the book and my dictionary but Susan Ashe has done a great job on the translation and has made the stories accessible for the modern reader. Having the tales bookended with introductions and background notes helps by giving context to the stories.

The stories were inspired by collected documents from an archive owned by Roman patricians, which Stendhal was able to access and read. From just reading these three tales, it is easy to see that Stendhal loves the Italian way of life and prefers it to his native French lifestyle. Each of these tales celebrate the Italian way of life. Roman Tales could give modern soap operas a run for their money. There are an abundance of compelling characters who are caught up with the passions of life. There are plenty of battles, bandits and blood. Each of the characters becomes entangled with the law, with families and with love.

Roman Tales is a great introduction to Stendhal's work.

You can purchase Roman Tales from your favourite online or offline retailer.

The publisher was kind enough to send me a copy. 


This is my last book review for 2012. In January 2013 I have two great books lined up for review - Born Weird by Andrew Kaufman and The Explorer by James Smythe.

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