Reviews of Dream of Scipio, the (2002)
Review by mojosmom (2004-06-30)
A most unusual, and rather difficult book, but well worth the effort.
Pears, the author of An Instance of the Fingerpost, has written an historical novel, but one which takes place at three different times, with three different casts of characters: a 5th-century bishop, writer of the neo-Plantonic text, "The Dream of Scipio", an 11th-century scholar and troubador, and an early 20th-century scholar who, studying the troubador, rediscovers the text.
The questions it raises (What is the obligation of the individual in a society under siege? What is the role of learning when civilization itself is threatened, whether by acts of man or nature? Does virtue lie more in engagement or in neutrality?) are relevant today.