A TALE OF TWO CITIES: IN SEARCH FOR ANCIENT POMPEII AND HERCULANEUM

written by Robert HARRIS

The Novel

Pompeii is a novel by Robert Harris, published by Random House in 2003. It blends historical fiction with the real-life eruption of Mount Vesuvius on 24 August 79 AD, which overwhelmed Pompeii and the vicinity. The novel is notable for its references to various aspects of volcanology and use of the Roman Calendar. In 2007, a film version of the book had been planned and was to be directed by Roman Polanski with a budget of US$150M but was cancelled due to the threat of a looming actors' strike.

Pompeii occupies a special place in Roman archaeology, for this city and its neighbors, notably Herculaneum, were remarkably well preserved under the volcanic debris that rained down from Mount Vesuvius in AD 79. The ruins give an unequalled glimpse of the daily life of town dwellers during laterepublic and early Empire. In contrast, in Rome itself, because of continuing rebuilding throughout the Empire, remains from these periods are onlysporadically preserved (Gates, 2003, 343).

— Charles Gates, The Archaeology of Urban Life in the Ancientnear East and Egypt, Greece and Rome

About Robert Harris

Robert Dennis Harris (born 7 March 1957) is an English novelist. He is a former journalist and BBC television reporter. Although he began his career in non-fiction, his fame rests upon his works of historical fiction. eginning with the best-seller Fatherland, Harris focused on events surrounding the Second World War, followed by works set in ancient Rome. His most recent works centre on contemporary history. Harris was educated at Selwyn College, Cambridge, where he was president of the Union and editor of the student newspaper Varsity.

Early life and education

Born in Nottingham, Harris spent his childhood in a small rented house on a Nottingham council estate. His ambition to become a writer arose at an early age, from visits to the local printing plant where his father worked. Harris went to Belvoir High School in Bottesford,[2] and then King Edward VII School, Melton Mowbray, where a hall was later named after him. There he wrote plays and edited the school magazine. Harris read English literature at Selwyn College, Cambridge. While at Cambridge, Harris was elected president of the Cambridge Union and editor of the oldest student newspaper at the university, Varsity.

About the Book

In 2003 Harris turned his attention to ancient Rome with his acclaimed Pompeii. The novel is about a Roman aqueduct engineer, working near the city of Pompeii just before the eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD. As the aqueducts begin to malfunction, he investigates and realises the volcano is shifting the ground and damaging the system and is near eruption. Meanwhile, he falls in love with the young daughter of a powerful local businessman who was illicitly dealing with his predecessor to divert municipal water for his own uses, and will do anything to keep that deal going.

Biography published by Wikipedia, Robert Harris (novelist), retrieved from 2020