WINNER OF THE 1973 nationwide publication AWARD
through the writer of Stoner
In Augustus, his 3rd nice novel, John Williams took on a wholly new problem, a ancient narrative set in classical Rome, exploring the lifetime of the founding father of the Roman Empire. to inform the tale, Williams grew to become to the epistolary novel, a style that was once new to him, reworking and transcending it simply as he did the western in Butcher’s Crossing and the campus novel in Stoner. Augustus is the ultimate triumph of a author who has come to be well-known all over the world as an American grasp.
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I came across them on the pier from which we have been to embark. Agrippa and Salvidienus have been speaking jointly, and Octavius stood slightly except them, looking at at a small send that used to be anchored within reach. that they had given no signal of noticing my technique. I stated, a little bit too loudly, I think: “I am the Maecenas who was once to fulfill you right here. Which of you is which? ” Agrippa and Salvidienus checked out me amusedly and gave me their names; Octavius didn't flip; and considering that I observed vanity and disdain in his again, I acknowledged: “And you need to be the opposite, whom they name Octavius. ” Then he grew to become, and that i knew that i used to be silly; for there has been a nearly determined shyness on his face. He stated: “Yes, i'm Gaius Octavius. My uncle has spoken of you. ” Then he smiled and provided me his hand and raised his eyes and checked out me for the 1st time. As you recognize, a lot has been stated approximately these eyes, mostly in undesirable meter and worse prose; i feel via now he has to be in poor health of listening to the metaphors and whatnot describing them, even though he can have been useless approximately them at one time. yet they have been, even then, terribly transparent and piercing and sharp— extra blue than grey, maybe, notwithstanding one considered mild, now not colour. . . . There, you notice? i've got begun doing it myself; i've been interpreting too a lot of my neighbors’ poems. i could have stepped again a speed; i don't be aware of. At any cost, i used to be startled, and so I regarded away, and my eyes fell upon the send at which Octavius have been observing. “Is that the scow that’s going to take us throughout? ” I requested. i used to be feeling a bit extra joyful. It was once a small service provider send, no more than fifty toes in size, with rotting timbers on the prow and patched sails. A stench rose from it. Agrippa spoke to me. “We are advised that it's the just one on hand. ” He was once smiling at me a bit; I think that he concept me fastidious, for i used to be donning my toga and had on a number of earrings, whereas they wore basically tunics and carried no adorns. “The stench should be unendurable,” I acknowledged. Octavius stated gravely, “I think it's going to Apollonia for a load of pickled fish. ” i used to be silent for a second; after which I laughed, and all of us laughed, and we have been pals. probably we're wiser once we are younger, notwithstanding the thinker could dispute with me. yet I swear to you, we have been neighbors from that second onward; and that second of silly laughter used to be a bond more advantageous than whatever that got here among us later —victories or defeats, loyalties or betrayals, griefs or joys. however the days of teenage pass, and a part of us is going with them, to not go back. hence it used to be that we crossed to Apollonia, in a stinking fish-boat that groaned with the gentlest wave, that indexed so perilously to its facet that we needed to brace ourselves in order that we might no longer tumble around the deck, and that carried us to a future shall we no longer then think. . . . I resume the writing of this letter after an interruption of 2 days; I shall now not difficulty you with a detailing of the maladies that occasioned that interruption; it's all too miserable.