John Williams was a major force in fiction for a decade, regarded in the same light as luminaries such as Bellow, Roth, and Updike. His novel of politics and corruption in ancient Rome was relevant in 1972 and remains today as a fictional study of how power always becomes a destructive force.— From Bill
WINNER OF THE 1973 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
By the Author of Stoner
In Augustus, his third great novel, John Williams took on an entirely new challenge, a historical narrative set in classical Rome, exploring the life of the founder of the Roman Empire. To tell the story, Williams turned to the epistolary novel, a genre that was new to him, transforming and transcending it just as he did the western in Butcher's Crossing and the campus novel in Stoner. Augustus is the final triumph of a writer who has come to be recognized around the world as an American master.
About the Author
John Williams (1922-1994) was born and raised in northeast Texas. Despite a talent for writing and acting, Williams flunked out of a local junior college after his first year. He reluctantly joined the war effort, enlisting in the Army Air Corps, and managed to write a draft of his first novel while there. Once home, Williams found a small publisher for the novel and enrolled at the University of Denver, where he was eventually to receive both his B.A. and M.A., and where he was to return as an instructor in 1954. He remained on the staff of the creative writing program at the University of Denver until his retirement in 1985. During these years, he was an active guest lecturer and writer, editing an anthology of English Renaissance poetry and publishing two volumes of his own poems, as well as three novels, Butcher's Crossing, Stoner, and the National Book Award-winning Augustus (all published as NYRB Classics). Daniel Mendelsohn was born in 1960 and studied classics at the University of Virginia and at Princeton, where he received his doctorate. His essays and reviews appear regularly in The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and The New York Times Book Review. His books include The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million; a memoir, The Elusive Embrace; and the collection Waiting for the Barbarians: Essays from the Classics to Pop Culture, published by New York Review Books. He teaches at Bard College.
"Augustus is a masterpiece." -Los Angeles Times
"One is drawn deeply into a world whose complexity, luxury, political cynicism, public gullibility, and violence seem very much like our own." -The New Yorker
"Williams has immersed himself in ancient history, its figures, its conflicts, its complicated intrigues and its often primitive turmoil. In his vivid panorama, The Golden Age sparkles with an eloquence, at times, approaching the poetic." -The Plain Dealer
"Out of the events surrounding one of the pivotal moments in Western history . . . John Williams has fashioned an always engaging, psychologically convincing work of fiction." -The New York Times
"Augustus is a vividly imagined re-creation of classical Rome, but its intuitive grasp of the experience of immense power makes it an unusual, and superior, novel." -The Boston Globe
"Novel or history, this is an excellent book. . . . a superior work of the imagination." -Playboy
"It would be easy to over-praise this novel; but there does not seem any adequate reason why this temptation should be resisted, especially as Mr. Williams in his turn resists the obvious one of allowing irony too prominent a part in the proceedings." -The Economist
"A pleasure to read. . . . A most polished performance." -Boston Herald Traveler
"Strong and striking. . . . Intelligent and intuitive, this excellent historical novel makes the world of Ancient Rome a place in which we feel instantly at home." -Publishers Weekly
"A novel of extraordinary range, yet of extraordinary minuteness, that manages never to sacrifice one quality for the other." -The Financial Times