Starting to ramp up

Well, nearly a month has gone by and I’m slightly less far from embarking on this exercise in foolishness.

I have been working through my stack of books that I had started but never finished, to “clear the decks”, to to speak, for Mr. Gibbon. In the last month I have wrapped up:

  • Toilers of the Sea, by Victor Hugo (which I highly recommend).
  • The Gates of Life, by Bram Stoker (which I do not).
  • The Forge of Christendom, by Tom Holland (a very interesting work of medieval history).

I am on my last one: Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (which promises to be a real page-turner).

Before diving into the Decline itself, I plan to read a few general works on Roman history. Gibbon assumes a moderate degree of familiarity with Roman history and my prior, abortive attempt to conquer Gibbon’s work left me flummoxed after only a few pages, wondering “who the hell is this Trajan guy he keeps talking about?”. So I have ordered the following books, and anticipate their imminent arrival.  Hopefully ths will bring my background knowledge on the subject to the level of an educated 18th-century Englishman, though perhaps of the feckless, flighty, and snuff-addled variety.

1. The History of Rome by Michael Grant

2. Romans: From Village to Empire by Mary Boatwright

3. The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Rome

So if all goes well, in a few weeks I’ll have made it through those selections and ready to depart on my long journey with Mr. Gibbon. Or maybe I’ll rediscover the joy of Tetris in between now and then and decide to chuck the whole idea!

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