The Classical Novels: The Macedonian, Scenes from the Life of Cleopatra (Recovered classics)

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9780929701424: The Classical Novels: The Macedonian, Scenes from the Life of Cleopatra (Recovered classics)

Alexander the Great and Queen Cleopatra stand shrouded in myth and mystery at opposite ends of a Greek epoch, symbols of the Hellenizing conquests of Egypt and Persia, the ascendancy of Alexandria, and the final absorption of Ptolemaic Egypt into the Roman Empire. Many authors have exploited their lives as the very stuff of legend, beyond human dimension. By contrast, and with penetrating insight, Mary Butts brings Alexander and Cleopatra alive as human beings in two vivid novels, shattering their conventional masks to explore motivations of power, the allure of “the sacred,” and the clashes of cultures. In dramatic vignettes from various angles, the lives of Alexander and Cleopatra are separately presented with their extraordinary entourages, including Aristotle, Callisthenes, Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and Cicero. Combined for the first time in this volume, The Macedonian and Scenes from the Life of Cleopatra form a unified work, richly imagined, thoroughly researched, and augmented by three classical stories not previously collected.

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She drank with Hemingway at Les Deux Magots; Virgil Thompson courted her; among her best friends she counted H.D. and Bryher and corresponded at length with Charles Williams, but Virginia Woolf hated her perfume. She lived more outrageously than Jean Rhys and was considered a better writer than Katherine Mansfield. She was published in Ford Madox Ford's Transatlantic Review and Ezra Pound's Little Review; Robert McAlmon's Contact Editions issued her first novel. ... And yet, though hailed in her time for adventurous originality, because of her untimely death her greatest works have remained lost for fifty years. Fortunately, the flame of Mary Butts (1890-1937) has been kept alive over time by Kenneth Rexroth, Virgil Thomson, Robert Duncan, John Ashbery, Kenneth Irby, Gerrit Lansing, Robert Kelly and many others.

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