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If so, someone crept up behind the poet and breathed down his neck when he wasn't looking. ' Nikeratos's Apollo shares his delight in theatre and in excellence- but he belongs to a different order of being. The god is that which is. He is stern, radiant, gracious and without pity. A perfect chord is the friend of him whose strings are tuned to it. Can it pity the kitharist who fumbles? (Chapter 1) Thettalos asks Nikeratos if Apollo cannot be grateful. The answer is that 'he cannot change his nature which can light or burn' (Chapter 14).

Only one of Mary Renault's earliest books, The Charioteer (1953), is still in print. Bernard Bergonzi's assessment 'that Farrell did not become an important novelist until the publication of Troubles' is correct in every sense. 50 These are both, for reasons which are probably beyond explanation, writers who found their talent when they came to write about the past. That could be said of Fowles. No explanation is offered here, and only occasional mention is made of the writers' work outside the genre being considered.

Suicide can be seemly; animal sacrifice is a fact of life. Women are inferior because the gods made them so; homosexual love is the noblest and most dependable bond for men. The method which presents Alexias and his world in these three pages is followed throughout The Last of the Wine and the next three Renault novels. A Hellenic view of Hellas is sustained without any protective shield of authorial comment, explanation or apology interposed to reassure, and with little or no undercutting irony to allow a comforting sense of 40 Perspective in British Historical Fiction Today superiority.

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