10 Jan 2016

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May 2015
Confronting the Classics - Mary Beard - Profile, 2014

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This is a fix-up of various reviews that Beard has written for publications such as The London Review of Books and is intended to show how Classics is still a lively and relevant subject today. To my mind it doesn't quite succeed, and the reason is its format.

Yes, yes, I know - for a book review to criticise a book for being a set of book reviews may seem like the height of hypocrisy, particularly coming from someone who doesn't do much original writing himself. But that's the point. The reason I write book reviews is that I am lazy. Criticising others is simple; coming up with something worth criticising much harder. And I think that Beard can to a certain extent be accused of taking the easy way out here. Her reviews are interesting and entertaining reads. But the scattergun approach imposed by the variety of topics that they cover reveals a common weakness about Classics as a whole that she does not really address.
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