Robert Graves – I, Claudius

The book, a fake autobiography, tells the story of Claudius’ life from his childhood until the day he is proclaimed emperor.
A very appropriate literary device is applied by the author: the protagonist in fact talks in the first person. He is lame, stuttering, not prone to social life but gifted with great intelligence, a vast cultural knowledge and fine political sense: Claudius is depicted by Graves as a multifaceted character, ironic and psychologically well portrayed. All elements that make him likeable to the readers. The other characters, all real-life historical figures, are also carefully depicted and very credible, although the author gives a negative connotation to most of them. First of all Livia, the emperor’s grandmother, is portrayed as a real black soul, able to kill and manipulate anyone who stands in her way, merciless even to her husband and children.

Graves carefully describes the Julius-Claudian society and political life as well as the royal court’s environment, with its intrigues, envy and its internal dense network of more or less legal relationships.
The book, a direct descendant of the great historical novels of the nineteenth century, combines a rigorous historical research with lively and brilliant storytelling which is never dreary; it alternates colloquial register with a more philosophical one as well as deploying one typical of historical writings, but always tinged with a subtle British humour. Balanced, exciting and memorable, to be recommended to anyone who really loves reading.

A classic of English literature, perfect for the connoisseurs of the quality historical genre.

Translation by Anna Anzani (edited by Sabrina Macchi)

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Valentina Leoni
Valentina Leoni is a musician and an art historian; she wrote and writes reviews and articles about books and comics for different websites. Attentive connoisseur of Japanese culture, she has been a member of the Scientific Committee of the exhibition Dai Samurai a Mazinga Z (From Samurai to Mazinger Z) (Casa dei Carraresi, Treviso October 2014) and has long been a collaborator of Radio Animati for which she recently edited the transmission Yatta: Luoghi Non Comuni sull'Animazione Giapponese (Yatta: Uncommon Places on Japanese Animation).