THE PRIVATE AND PUBLIC LIFE OF SOCRATES by RenÉ Kraus

THE PRIVATE AND PUBLIC LIFE OF SOCRATES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Extremely fictionized biography of the famous philosopher, in the same vein as the author's Theodora. The salient facts are there, but the author yields to her tendency to overwrite the period, modernize it by ""sexing it up"", with a result somewhat on the flagrant side, a characteristic more in keeping with Theodora than with Socrates. This is as much a biography of the times as of the man, the extravagant age of Pericles, the ""whirling, glittering, light-drunken Athenian dance of death"" which was headed for collapse after two wars, a plague and a spendthrift, corrupt reign. There are so many apocryphal versions of the life of Socrates that one cannot say this is the truth, and this isn't. Here he is seen as the ugly, misshapen, barefoot man who haunts the public places, commenting ironically and illuminatingly to all who consulted him. Philosopher of the people, concerned only with Truth and Knowledge as the ultimate good. He played an important part in the life of the young Alcibiades (the homosexual phase is sustained in this book as an urge, though not fulfilled). The turn against him was started by his misrepresentation by Aristophanes. The trial for perversion of youth and falsification of religion is well handled. And throughout his philosophy is neatly worked into the dialog, not too obstrusively. Xanthippe is shown in conventional guise, as a scold.

Pub Date: March 8th, 1940
Publisher: Doubleday, Doran