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The Fall of Troy: A Novel by Peter Ackroyd

The Fall of Troy: A Novel (original 2006; edition 2007)

by Peter Ackroyd

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3701448,933 (3.45)15
Sophia Chrysanthis is only 16 when the German archaeologist Herr Obermann comes wooing: he wants a Greek bride who knows her Homer. Sophia passes his test, and soon she is helping to excavate the amphorae and bronze vessels at the battle site of Troy without damaging them. Obermann is very good at the art of archaeology--perhaps too good at it. The atmosphere at Troy is tense and mysterious. Sophia finds herself increasingly baffled by the past... not only the remote past that Obermann is so keen to share with her in the form of his beloved epics of the Trojan wars, but also his own, recent past--a past that he has chosen to hide from her. But she, too, is very good at the art of archaeology.… (more)
Title:The Fall of Troy: A Novel
Authors:Peter Ackroyd
Info:Nan A. Talese (2007), Hardcover, 224 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:historical fiction

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The Fall of Troy by Peter Ackroyd (2006)



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Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
A tale of madness, obsession and hubris, this fictionalisation of Schliemann’s discovery of Troy is a real treat. Ackroyd delves into the depths of the obsessive mind, following the excavations of the German archaeologist Herr Obermann as he strives to find the remains of Troy. Cunning and manipulative, Obermann is always ready to ensure that his helpers find what he expects to find, rather than what is there. Alongside the story of the excavation runs the tale of Obermann’s relationship with his young Greek wife, Sophia, who gradually begins to understand that her husband has more secrets than he is willing to admit, and that his whole enterprise is pushing him perilously close to the edge of sanity. ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Nov 15, 2018 |
A rather slight romp built around the 19th century excavations at the supposed site of ancient Troy. A domineering German archeologist for whom devotion to his theories trumps any other considerations, moral or scholarly is ultimately defeated by the people he betrays and (seemingly) the gods. Clever and pleasant, but not a major Ackroyd novel. ( )
  sjnorquist | Jan 24, 2015 |
Fall of Troy: no, not another about the Trojan War and its aftermath. This was a suspenseful novel about the archaeological excavations of the 19th century; Heinrich Obermann was a thinly-disguised Heinrich Schliemann. This was a fascinating book; it begins with the marriage of Herr Obermann with a young Greek girl, Sophia, many years younger than Obermann. They travel to Hissarlik, where Obermann feels the actual Troy has been buried. Sophia helps him in his work: she feels "if she embraced her duties with enthusiasm they ceased to be burdensome. That is why she immersed herself in Homer, and why she took pride in he excavations." She meets some of her husband's friends, none of whom are as obsessive and single-minded as Obermann. The author shows all through the novel his blindness in his twisting what he sees before him to fit 'truths' he believes about Troy; Troy is always the Troy of Homer. Sophia begins to think her husband is not what he seems; she begins to find deviousness and wants to find out the truth about him. He had a previous wife of whom he had not told her. When Obermann finds a cache of golden ornaments, so that the Turkish government does not find them, he has Sophia spirit them away to a Phrygian Greek couple he knows, to hide them. Sophia hears an odd, anguished scream--not the lady of the house. A visiting American archaeologist mysteriously dies of a fever after exploring a particular cave. After discovery of clay tablets written in an unknown language, a British archaeologist, Thornton, and expert on ancient languages, enters the picture. He makes a shocking discovers about what kind of people had probably lived in Troy. The denouement was fitting. ( )
  janerawoof | Aug 18, 2014 |

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel. It felt like flying, may be because I practically read it in the course of two medium-length flights.

As there are many good reviews of this book, I will not extend myself too much.

Ackroyd is a master teller. He polishes the fascination that his amateur archeologist Heinrich Obermann (a.k.a. Henrich Schliemann) feels for anything Homeric to a degree of brilliance that it naturally reflects back from Obermann himself. Those people living around him, or visiting him or spying on him are drawn by his visions and enthusiasm. This fascination proves contagious to the readers too.

The plot is also ingeniously handled. The development of Obermann’s personality simultaneously spins its own threads of destiny that will lead, necessarily, to his tragic fate. But I think the final brooch to Ackroyd’s abilities goes to his skill in giving different voices to different characters. Their speech portrays their personality. Not many writers have this chameleonic ability with their pen. Julian Barnes is one of them. Simone de Beauvoir, however, failed.

The novel renewed my interest in the Troy and Schliemann excavations. I already have sitting on top of my piano a framed postcard of the so called “Agamemnon mask”, but as soon as I arrived back home after my flights/reading, I switched on my computer and browsed through the internet checking fiction with fact and looked for further readings.

This is the Agamemnon that, poor thing, has to listen to my piano practice.

Navigating through the web of the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, it is immediately apparent what an extraordinary person Heinrich Schliemann was. Amongst other documents, some of his diaries are preserved. These are written in several languages, depending on where he was writing them. We have his texts in German, French, English, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Arabic, Russian, Dutch, Polish and Turkish. These multifaceted written records can be seen as a proxy to his multifaceted life, abilities and personality.

But if one wants to check whether Ackroyd’s eccentric Obermann and his idiosyncratic understanding of Archaeological practices is an appropriate impersonation of Schliemann, the best is to look at the picture of Sophia (could she have had a better name?), wearing the beautiful and becoming treasures found by her husband in his excavations.

Can one have any doubts?

( )
  KalliopeMuse | Apr 2, 2013 |
A fictionalized, satirical account of Heinrich Schliemann's excavations at the site of Troy, in what is now Turkey. Schliemann is portrayed here as Heinrich Obermann, an obsessive amateur archaeologist concerned only with discovering the remnants of Homeric Troy, and to fit all the finds into his preconceived notions of what the site should reveal. No dissent will be tolerated!

As with many of his other stories, Ackroyd has taken historical details and weaved them into an engrossing narrative. A good read, as these usually are. ( )
  JBD1 | Oct 26, 2012 |
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