The spine of Womersley’s abridgment of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire consists of unabridged chapters extracted from the text. I get a better sense of Gibbon’s ability to weave drama, observation, and reflection in a miniature whole that is something akin to a short story. The bridging selections between the unabridged chapters knit together Gibbon’s sustained argument for the causes of the fall of the empire, but I find the argument less interesting to follow than reveling in Gibbon’s narrative ability. The unity of the chapters seem as if they were chiseled out of granite.

What I have lost by not reading the whole again, I have gained by seeing the literary value of the work in closer perspective. I suspect Gibbon will always be one of my favorite writers.

Published in: on August 18, 2008 at 10:41 am  Leave a Comment  

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