THE CONSPIRACY by John Hersey

THE CONSPIRACY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An epistolatory, fictionalized account of a plot to overthrow Nero. The paranoia and snoopiness of the imperial security forces self-fulfillingly fertilizes conspiracy among Lucan the poet, his uncle Seneca, the brave, virtuous and beautiful mistress of Lucan's father, and so forth. By way of smoking out the plotters and amusing Himself, as Nero is coyly referred to, a vast orgy is planned. The abundant sexual and scatological references in the book have the discomfiting quality of expressing the author's preoccupation, rather than constituting artistically or commercially inspired elements. The C movie aspects of topic and narrative are accompanied by discourses on artists and writers and the temptations of power. The elaborate descriptions of more or less eccentric characters offer a streak of poor-man's Durrell, while Seneca's reminiscence of Nero's matricide, for instance, rises to the level of poor-man's Robert Graves. Which is the best one can say for the book.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1971
Publisher: Knopf