Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Lavinia

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin X
Lavinia by Ursula K. Le Guin
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2008, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Apr 2009, 288 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Beyond the Book

Print Review

Vergil
History records that Publius Vergilius Maro, better known as Vergil (or Virgil), was born in 70 BCE. Scholars argue about his place of birth and his early education, but legend has it that he was born the son of a farmer in Northern Italy, which was then known as Cisalpine Gaul ("Gaul, on this side of the Alps"). Despite a relatively lowly birth, he was well-educated, ending his education in Rome where, after dabbling briefly with other studies, he focused on philosophy.

Vergil lived during one of the most turbulent times in history. He was ten years old when the First Triumvirate (Julius Caesar, Pompey and Crassus) was formed, 17 when it collapsed, and 26 when Caesar was assassinated in 44 BCE. He fled south to Naples during the civil war that followed Caesar's assassination. His writings during that time brought him notoriety, resulting in his sponsorship by Octavian (Augustus Caesar), the eventual emperor of Rome.

He wrote The Aeneid during the last ten years of his 49-year life, in part to legitimize Augustus's reign. Vergil repeatedly foreshadows the reign of Augustus in his epic, tying the creation of Rome to Aeneas. Augustus could trace his lineage back to Aeneas, thus giving him the right to rule.

Political or not, The Aeneid is a remarkable piece of literature. Although Aeneas first appears in Homer's The Iliad, numerous legends about him existed before Homer's time (c. 8th century BCE). Vergil was the first to combine all the tales about Aeneas into one coherent text. It comprises of twelve books split into two sections. The first six books deal with Aeneas's escape from Troy and journey to Italy, and includes his romantic interlude with Dido, Queen of Carthage. The second six books narrate his war against Turnus and the Latins.

There's some debate as to whether or not The Aeneid is a completed work. Several lines appear structurally incomplete, and the story ends abruptly with Aeneas killing his rival for Lavinia's hand. Vergil evidently wasn't happy with it as he ordered it burned on his death. Fortunately for posterity, Augustus intervened.

"The first time I really read the Aeneid was in my seventies, when I got enough Latin into my head at last to read it in Latin. Vergil is truly untranslatable; his poetry is the music of his language, and it gets lost in any other. Reading it at last, hearing that incredible voice, was a tremendous joy. And Lavinia's voice and her story came to me out of that joy. A gift from a great giver." - Ursula Le Guin.




Interesting Links

Article by Kim Kovacs

This article was originally published in May 2008, and has been updated for the April 2009 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

This article is available to non-members for a limited time. You can also read these articles for free. For full access become a member today.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Future Home of the Living God
    Future Home of the Living God
    by Louise Erdrich
    Louise Erdrich began Future Home of the Living God in 2002, set it aside, and picked it up again in ...
  • Book Jacket: The Last Mrs. Parrish
    The Last Mrs. Parrish
    by Liv Constantine
    Amber has lived in poverty all her life, and she has had enough. Of course, wishing to have money ...
  • Book Jacket: Never Coming Back
    Never Coming Back
    by Alison McGhee
    18 out of 23 reviewers gave Alison McGhee's Never Coming Back a rating of 4 or 5, with an average ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

At once a love story, a history lesson and a beautifully written tale of forgiveness.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Wonder Valley
    by Ivy Pochoda

    A visionary and masterful portrait of contemporary L.A. from the author of Visitation Street.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

He has only half learned the art of reading who has not added to it the more refined art of skipping and skimming

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

E Dog H I D

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.