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I, Claudius (Penguin Classics) [Kindle Edition]

Robert Graves , Barry Unsworth
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (395 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Despised for his weakness and regarded by his family as little more than a stammering fool, the nobleman Claudius quietly survives the intrigues, bloody purges and mounting cruelty of the imperial Roman dynasties. In I, Claudius he watches from the sidelines to record the reigns of its emperors: from the wise Augustus and his villainous wife Livia to the sadistic Tiberius and the insane excesses of Caligula. Written in the form of Claudius' autobiography, this is the first part of Robert Graves's brilliant account of the madness and debauchery of ancient Rome, and stands as one of the most celebrated, gripping historical novels ever written.

Includes an introduction by Barry Unsworth.

Editorial Reviews Review

Having never seen the famous 1970s television series based on Graves' historical novel of ancient Rome and being generally uneducated about matters both ancient and Roman, I wasn't prepared for such an engaging book. But it's a ripping good read, this fictional autobiography set in the Roman Empire's days of glory and decadence. As a history lesson, it's fabulous; as a novel it's also wonderful. Best is Claudius himself, the stutterer who let everyone think he was an idiot (to avoid getting poisoned) but who reveals himself in the narrative to be a wry and likable observer. His story continues in Claudius the God.

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Graves's legendary tale of Claudius, a nobleman in the corrupt and cruel world of ancient Rome during the rule of Augustus, Tiberius and Caligula, is a truly compelling listening experience. Derek Jacobi returns to the role that defined his career when he starred in the 1976 Masterpiece Theatre miniseries I, Claudius. Jacobi is so strong in this role, it seems created especially for him. Jacobi's compelling voice demands his audience's undivided attention from start to finish and in doing so delivers an unforgettable performance as Claudius yet again. So incredibly personal is Jacobi's performance that listeners feel almost as if eavesdropping on someone's private life, which only draws us deeper into this gem of modern literature. (Aug.)
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Product Details

  • File Size: 918 KB
  • Print Length: 482 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 067972477X
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (August 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002RI9HR0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #257,400 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
154 of 158 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I, Claudius - this book changed how I read forever August 1, 2001
Instead of going into gory detail about the particulars of this text, as I'm sure you've read a few summaries already, I will merely say that this book changed my reading habits forever. I read this book, simply out of curiousity, because the title was familiar and from the first page of Graves' novel I was gripped. Written in an excellent, half-comic, half-tragic style, the novel flows, and keeps you reading until it abruptly (and I'd say quite cruelly ends). The moment which will stick in my mind forever is when I first read the scene when Claudius is called into the chamber of Caligula. Caligula mad intends to kill Claudius, but Claudius quickly picks up on the emperor's madness...and well read the book. This book changed it all for me, the next book I read was Tacitus, Annals of Imperial Rome, then The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire..and so on. This book lit a passionate flame of curiousity about Roman History and then eventually world history, ever since reading this book 3 years ago, I have read only ancient classics, greek, roman and world histories, at the pace of at least one a month. For that reason alone I must rate this book highly and maybe it will light that curiousity in you too.
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231 of 245 people found the following review helpful
This novel by Robert Graves represents the supreme instance in the twentieth century to write a literarily serious historical novel. There has, of course, been no shortage of historical novels during the past century, but for the most part "historical" fiction has become a species of genre fiction, like Sci-Fi, detective fiction, spy fiction, and Westerns. I, CLAUDIUS, on the other hand, is a historical novel composed by someone otherwise regarded as a serious writer. This relationship between serious writers and the genre of historical fiction has not always been the case. Until the mid-19th century, a host of novels attempted to recreate a historical era, not least Dickens in A TALE OF TWO CITIES, William Thackeray in HENRY ESMOND, Flaubert in SALAMBO, Tolstoy in WAR AND PEACE, and Pynchon's GRAVITY'S RAINBOW. But for the most part, writers in the latter half of the nineteenth century and all of the twentieth century have forsaken historical fiction to write in the present tense, or at the latest of their childhood, as with Marcel Proust or Anthony Powell or Harper Lee.

Because of his success in the writing of I, CLAUDIUS and its sequel CLAUDIUS THE GOD, many today think of Robert Graves as primarily a novelist, but in fact most of his writing falls into the nonfiction realm, much of that with a historical bent. Graves was a passionate student of antiquity, both the Greeks and the Romans, and his goal in writing I, CLAUDIUS was to chronicle the period in Roman history immediately after the collapse of the republic and near the beginning of the rule of the Caesars. On the one hand, he wanted to adhere as closely to the documentary evidence for the events in the period as is compatible with a work of fiction, and on the other produced a first rate historical novel.
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74 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful depiction of Roman politics August 8, 2000
Roman history, with its conquests, technical advancements, and impact on our modern world can be one of the most facinating subjects known to man. Roman politics, however, is usually one of the most boring. What Graves does with "I, Claudius" is present all the complex political intrigues of the early empire and make them not only bearable, but extremely involving.
Told through the eyes of Tiberius Claudius, the intellectually gifted but physically deformed relation to a series of emperors, the book winds from the last half of Augustus' (the first emperor after Julius Caesar) reign through the notorious times of Caligula, all the while keeping the reader enthralled.
The most remarkable thing about this book is simply that so much HAPPENS. Unlike most works of fiction, Graves' work does not busy itself with flowing descriptions of scenery, beautiful women, or romantic philosophy. Instead, the plot moves from event to event in a fast-paced but still rich combination of history and literary skill. Graves is able to strike an impressive balance between massive amounts of raw information (the history part) and uniquely adept storytelling prowess. Never have I read a book so full of historical fact and yet so utterly enjoyable.
You need NO prior knowledge of Roman history to appreciate this novel. Highly recommended.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Those naughty Romans August 5, 2002
After you finish "I, Claudius" you'll probably be sighing in relief that you weren't born into Roman nobility at the end of the first century BC. Because that would mean you'd have had wealth and political influence during the time of Augustus's scheming wife Livia and the tyrannical reigns of Emperors Tiberius and Caligula, which could have easily meant total loss of wealth and quite possibly death (and the deaths of all members of your family) if you so much as looked at any of them cross-eyed. Claudius is the nervous stammering weakling in the background, ridiculed by nearly all the royal family but relatively safe on account of those same shortcomings. He witnesses and lives through the many terrors and murders that the helpless upper crust of Rome suffers at the hands of the Caesars and their families and friends. The few noble-hearted members of the family are systematically wiped out as well, to prevent them from returning power to the Senate and making Rome a republic again.
Graves based this work (and the sequel Claudius the God) on Claudius's actual autobiography. Clearly many of the details must be fictional (i.e. what was on the menu on such and such night, words said during conversations, etc.), but all major events and many of the minor plot elements are ostensibly substantiated by historical text and hence are probably true to fact. That's scary. How can politics within a single city get as ridiculously inane and out of touch with regard for human life as portrayed in this work? Then again we need to remember that the Roman people condoned the spectacle of people killing each other for sport, so their thought patterns were obviously different from ours today. The Roman empire was a civilization, certainly.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book came as ordered!
Published 1 day ago by Robert B. Jaffe
5.0 out of 5 stars Graves is a write no doubt about it. I ...
Graves is a write no doubt about it. I had only a sketchy knowledge of Claudius but not anymore. Learned a lot of history.
Published 13 days ago by 75yr olld reader
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it! Perfect, as per the description. Thank you.
I love it! Perfect, as per the description. Thank you.
Published 18 days ago by kathryn johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Good intro to classical history
This is a fun book about the early Roman Empire, from the reign of Augustus to the accession of our narrator. Read more
Published 20 days ago by Savoir Faire
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written; hard to follow
I liked this book but I had a hard time keeping the characters straight. The novel is well-written but would require more than one reading to fully understand it. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Jnk
3.0 out of 5 stars just ok
I find the sentiments for this book excessively positive. the title suggests the book is an autobiography but a tremendous part of it does not concern the said emperor at all?! Read more
Published 28 days ago by S. Sasic
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Loved it
Published 1 month ago by Barry Flanagan
5.0 out of 5 stars title
I think it's obnoxious to require these sections in order to submit a review. If reviews are as important as they say, they would let us have the option of submitting our number of... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Tyler Durden
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite book and a great read
Just a lovely book. I was so surprised by the high quality over all. Gold leafing on the pages edge and high quality paper that isn't found in many new books today. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Marialice Boukes
5.0 out of 5 stars Murder and Mayhem...and FUN
Was enthralled with the BBC series when it originally aired (the Downton Abbey of its time). The book is wonderful, filled with humor, pathos, murder and mayhem. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Ms. Lis
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More About the Author

ROBERT GRAVES (1895-1985) was an English poet, translator, and novelist, one of the leading English men of letters in the twentieth century. He fought in World War I and won international acclaim in 1929 with the publication of his memoir of the First World War, Good-bye to All That. After the war, he was granted a classical scholarship at Oxford and subsequently went to Egypt as the first professor of English at the University of Cairo. He is most noted for his series of novels about the Roman emperor Claudius and his works on mythology, such as The White Goddess.

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Why can't we buy this kindle version?
so--why can't we buy this version for kindle????????
Oct 12, 2010 by Jimmie Green |  See all 3 posts
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