Harald Voetmann (Author) Johanne Sorgenfri Ottosen (Translator)
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DescriptionIn a shuttered bedroom in ancient Italy, the sleepless Pliny the Elder lies in bed obsessively dictating new chapters of his Natural History to his slave Diocles. Fat, wheezing, imperious, and prone to nosebleeds, Pliny does not believe in spending his evenings in repose: No--to be awake is to be alive. There's no time to waste if he is to classify every element of the natural world in a single work. By day Pliny the Elder carries out his many civic duties and gives the occasional disastrous public reading. But despite his astonishing ambition to catalog everything from precious metals to the moon, as well as a collection of exotic plants sourced from the farthest reaches of the world, Pliny the Elder still takes immense pleasure in the common rose. After he rushes to an erupting Mount Vesuvius and perishes in the ash, his nephew, Pliny the Younger, becomes custodian of his life's work. But where Pliny the Elder saw starlight, Pliny the Younger only sees fireflies.
In masterfully honed prose, Voetmann brings the formidable Pliny the Elder (and his pompous nephew) to life. Awake is a comic delight about one of history's great minds and the not-so-great human body it was housed in.
New Directions Publishing Corporation
September 21, 2021
5.2 X 7.9 X 0.4 inches | 0.3 pounds
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About the Author
Nominated for the Nordic Council Prize, the Danish author Harald Voetmann (b. 1978) has written novels, short stories, poetry, and a monograph on the Roman poet Sulpicia. He also translates classical Latin literature, notably Petronius and Juvenal. Sublunar is the second in his series of three historical novels about mankind's will to conquer nature. New Directions published the first novel, Awake, about Pliny the Elder, in 2021; the final instalment, following eleventh-century German mystic Othlo of St. Emmeram, will publish in 2024.
Johanne Sorgenfri Ottosen is a Danish translator born in 1986. She currently lives in Copenhagen where she also works as an illustrator and literary editor.