- Paperback: 276 pages
- Publisher: Pantheon; 1st American Ed edition (November 12, 1979)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 039473825X
- ISBN-13: 978-0394738253
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #787,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Nature of Alexander Paperback – November 12, 1979
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The acclaimed biography of Alexander the Great.
About the Author
MARY RENAULT has written over a dozen novels, has had her work adapted for radio, stage, and screeen, and has been the subject of documentaries and biographies. She is as widely known for her forthright treatment of gay relationships as she is her historical restructions of ancient Greece. She was born in London and educated at Oxford. She then trained as a nurse, where she met her lifelong partner Julie Mullard. After during World War II, she and Mullard settled in South Africa and traveled considerably in Africa and Greece. It was at this time that she began writing her historical novels, including The King Must Die, The Last of the Wine, and The Persian Boy. The biography The Nature of Alexander is one of her only non-fiction books. She died in Cape Town in 1983.
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Top customer reviews
She handles the lack of direct evidence of Alexander’s bi-sexuality (or more correctly, his homosexuality) with tact and respect for the missing information. And yet, as the the story advances, Renault becomes increasingly brave in what many believe is merely stating the “obvious”. Alexander was gay. She literally asserts this “unproven” aspect of Alexander by about half way through the text. Good for her. And even better for Alexander and his legacy. It is not just wishful thinking that the vast majority of modern day people view Alexander through the looking glass of his homosexuality.
Hephaestion fills many of the pages, as he should, as Alexander’s companion, greatest friend, and lover for nearly 20 years. It’s really too bad that more is not known about Hephaestion, for he was (or seems to have been) as complex, intelligent and driven as Alexander (and likely even more handsome). His untimely early death caused Alexander the greatest pain, distress and grief of his life. He built a massive and stunning 200-foot high pyre on which to cremate him. Many believe that Alexander’s own untimely death a few months later was at least in part due to a broken heart, never to mend from his unfathomable loss of Hephaestion.
What stands out to me in this text, as a reader of many books on Alexander, is his generosity and his need to be loved. Much of what he did with and for his troops (paying them generously, for instance) is born from those 2 aspects of his personality. And besides, he knew exactly how to handle his warriors, many of the Macedonians, like Alexander, had been away from home for 8 years – while conquering the known world of Western Asia.
This book is a testament to the enduring legacy of Alexander, the likes of whom the world has never known again – and likely never will.
A solid 5.