Threshold of Fire: A Novel of Fifth Century Rome

Allison & Busby, 1997 - 255 pagina's
Initially published in The Netherlands in 1964, Haasse's ( In the Dark Wood Wandering ) pensive novel of the clash between Christian and pagan cultures in A.D. 414 is a far cry from the likes of Lloyd C. Douglas or Lew Wallace. For one thing, it's the pagan Romans following the faith of their forefathers who are persecuted in accordance with the edicts of Theodosius, while Christians exploit their new authority. There are despicable and admirable representatives of both cults; the only two truly honorable characters are an Egyptian Jew and his illegitimate half-slave grandson. After an Alexandrian education, this grandson returns to Rome, from where he had been exiled after one of the political shifts of the late Empire, to become the poet Claudian, an historical figure often considered the last classical Roman writer. His unlawful presence in Rome brings him into conflict with the Christian Prefect Hadrian. Although the real Claudian is sometimes claimed by Christians, Haasse's creation eschews established religion in favor of humanism. It is Claudian's character and his "faith" that forms the core of a book both less dogmatic and wiser than many which concern this period. -- Publisher's Weekly

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LibraryThing Review

Gebruikersrecensie  - janerawoof - LibraryThing

This one was fantastic! Not a book of 'action', except in the memories expressed by two of the main characters, Prefect Hadrian and the poet, Claudius Claudianus. Hadrian presides at the trial of a ... Volledige review lezen


Gebruikersrecensie  - Kirkus

The cusps of the past are further explored in another of the prolific Haasse's historical sagas (In a Dark Wood Wandering, 1989; The Scarlet City, 1990)—a 1964 novel newly translated from the Dutch ... Volledige review lezen

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Over de auteur (1997)

Hella Haasse was born in Batavia, the capital of what was then Dutch East India, now independent Indonesia. It is thus understandable why her first novel, Oeroeg (1948), describes the relationship between a Dutch and an Indonesian youth. As the two young men grow up, they gradually become conscious of their ethnic and cultural differences and, in spite of their efforts, nature appears to have destined them to become estranged from each other. Haasse's greatest impact on the Dutch literary scene occurred when her historical novel Het woud der verwachting (In a Dark Wood Wandering) (1948) was published. It was translated into English in 1989. This novel became a classic in its own time. In it the author describes the ever-increasing loneliness of the fifteenth-century Romantic poet--prince Charles d'Orleans, pretender to the crown of France, who wrote most of his poems in British and French prisons. In addition to giving a moving report of the life of a person destined to end his life in utter isolation, Hella Haasse succeeds in presenting her main character in a way which allows the reader to identify with him. Charles's life is interwoven with the lives of all the other people he meets. Haasse's talent for description and narration and her skill with flashbacks allow her to manage the novel's many characters, constructing a microcosm in which each reader feels "at home' and meets people with whom he or she can identify.

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