Alexandria: The Last Nights of Cleopatra

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9781847087034: Alexandria: The Last Nights of Cleopatra
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When Peter Stothard, editor of the Times Literary Supplement, finds himself stranded in Alexandria in the winter of 2010 after his flight to South Africa has been cancelled, he sets out to explore a nation on the brink of revolution. Guided by two native Egyptians, Stothard traces his own life-long interest in the history of Cleopatra, and his repeated failure to write the book about her that he had always wanted to. In Alexandria, part memoir and part travel literature, Stothard was the sights and sounds of the ancient city to reconnect with the formative experiences of his childhood education, and his literary career. Melancholy and sometimes humorous, Alexandria offers a first-hand glimpse into the fracturing police state of Hosni Mubarak, before the uprising in Tahir Square changed everything.

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Review:

Touching and funny in the finest tradition of English letters --The Times

Subtle and mournful --Spectator

Alexandria exerts a powerful attraction. It is as good an evocation of one of the world's most absorbing cities as one could imagine. It is the depth and quality of Stothard's insights into himself that will make me go back to this book again and again. --John Simpson, Mail on Sunday

His discursive story of brooding on Cleopatra is fascinating, a book full of surprises, humour, information and reflections; it's a walk through the rich estate that is Peter Stothard's mind. --Allan Massie, Literary Review

Peter Stothard has brought back from his quixotic North African jaunt the materials of a very fine book indeed. --New Statesman

If I have any quibble with the book, it is based on wanting to spend more time with Stothard. The book is full of such won wisdom; and although not ostensibly there to report on the first stirrings of political change in Egypt, his glancing observations tell us more about a paranoid, fractious state than countless more column inches... and all of that shot through with a supremely humane intelligence. --Scotsman

Stothard marshals his material superbly to create an absorbing mix of history, biography and memoir --Sunday Times

Wonderful, surprising, it is with great skill that the various elements are knotted together to produce a very eerie sense of moving back and forth through place and time. ... This is an uplifting book - a constant reminder that life is far more richly layered and mysterious than we realise --Daily Mail

A subtle, haunting and complex book ... Stothard too, like Cavafy, takes his place in the venerable tradition of Alexandrian elegy. What he has composed, in the final reckoning, is a threnody for himself. --Guardian

Alexandria is a thoroughly engrossing read. With much subtlety, it proves what a classicist knows in his marrow. In snatching at a distant past, one cannot help but clarify the distance in between. In following the thread to Cleopatra, Stothard has found himself. --Standpoint magazine

His own story has a great plot, which emerges unobtrusively. At moments it's Jonathan Coe's The Rotters Club and The Closed Circle... Some episode are in the same comic league, too... In his reflections on the pasts whose details are smudged by loss, Stothard enduringly evokes the fragility of life and memory. --Telegraph

Alexandria is a thoroughly engrossing read. With much subtlety, it proves what a classicist knows in his marrow. In snatching at a distant past, one cannot help but clarify the distance in between. In following the thread to Cleopatra, Stothard has found himself. --Standpoint magazine

Like the tales it has to tell, this book's genre slips attractively in and out of focus: by turns, a scholarly quest; an offbeat travelogue; a postwar meritocrat's apologia. In the end, protean Cleopatra and her city will escape his grasp, but the story of their flight proves consistently bewitching and (in its more elegiac aspects) very moving too. --Boyd Tonkin, Independent

Alexandria is a thoroughly engrossing read. With much subtlety, it proves what a classicist knows in his marrow. In snatching at a distant past, one cannot help but clarify the distance in between. In following the thread to Cleopatra, Stothard has found himself. --Standpoint magazine

About the Author:

PETER STOTHARD is the Editor of the TLS and the author of two books of diaries, Thirty Days (2003) and On the Spartacus Road (2010). He is a classicist who has spent most of his life as a political and literary journalist. From 1992 to 2002 he was the Editor of The Times. In 2012 he was chairman of the judges for the Man Booker Prize. He was knighted in 2003.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9781847087041: Alexandria: The Last Nights of Cleopatra

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  1847087043 ISBN 13:  9781847087041
Publisher: Granta Books, 2014
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9786130253868: Alexandria

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Book Description Granta, 2013. Hardcover. Condition: New. Having arrived in Alexandria in the winter of 2010?2011 with the intention of working on his eighth attempt at a biography of Cleopatra, Peter Stothard, a former editor of The Times, found his plans spoiled by the onset of the Arab Spring. The book he writes is a chronicle of his stay in the city, visiting ancient sites amid the gathering political storm, but it is also a fragmentary memoir of his youth, glimpsed through the history of Cleopatra. Seller Inventory # 225038

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