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Lord Elgin and the Marbles [Paperback]

William St. Clair
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

August 13, 1998 0192880535 978-0192880536 3
Based on a detailed study of both original records and recent discoveries, Lord Elgin and the Marbles is the authoritative historical account of the extraordinary circumstances in which the Elgin Marbles were acquired, of the tremendous impact which they made on modern appreciation of Greek art, and of the bitter reaction of Napoleon, Byron, and many others to their appropriation. In the concluding chapters of his book, St. Clair adds further fuel to the controversy by revealing for the first time some disturbing details about the treatment of the Marbles while in the British Museum's care, and of the British Museum's response to public concerns about this important cultural artefact.

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Editorial Reviews


a measured, well-founded, wise, witty, and intensely interesting vindication. TLS

About the Author

William St. Clair is the author of That Greece Might Still be Free, awarded the Heinemann prize by the Royal Society of Literature. He is also a leading scholar of Byron and Shelley and was awarded the Time Life prize and Macmillan silver pen for his The Godwins and the Shelleys in 1989. He is a contributor to the Financial Times, TLS and other journals, and a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 456 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 3 edition (August 13, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192880535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192880536
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 5.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,405,817 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A most comprehensive study December 14, 2008
In Greece there is an unusual idiomatic expression: to hold a memorial service with someone else's 'kollyva'. Kollyva is special boiled wheat with nuts and pomegranate seeds which is served at memorials and it is invariably provided by the family who hold the memorial service. Therefore the hypothetical disgrace and anomaly of a family so mean as to use someone else's kollyva is used merely as an idiom for someone who makes a gift of that which does not belong to them. This was what the Ottomans did when they gave Elgin the marbles from the Parthenon.Despite the misnomer 'Elgin Marbles', the marbles were not his possession but belonged to one of the most historic monuments in the world, the Acropolis, from which they were stolen. His theft is partially understandable only if one uses the dubious argument that he wanted to share these marbles. By bringing them to Britain he would be making them accessible to others who would not normally have had the opportunity to see them. Thus he was not a vandal in the same degree as those thieves who (acting completely unchecked by the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq) looted the treasures of the Baghdad Museum. Now amidst the genocide of over 1.5 million innocent Iraqi dead, some evil profiteers have been selling these priceless pieces of Assyrian/Babylonian art to private collectors/fences.
I remember watching a documentary a couple of years ago in which some academics and pseudo-intellectuals expressed their views about the proposed return of these marbles. One rather ignorant woman (without any substantial evidence) tried to argue that the marbles should remain in the British Museum since if they returned to Greece the Greek state would not look after them properly.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book November 21, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I wrote my senior thesis on the legality of Lord Elgins acquisition of the marbles and this book gave me great insight into the entire story behind it. The author is a fantastic writer and gives no opinions on the matter but clearly tells the story behind the Parthenon and Lord Elgin. If anyone wants to know more about the marbles this is where they should start! A great, entertaining read full of fun facts and great history. Not a challenging read but a very pleasant one where you will come out a more informed and knowledgable person!
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