Catalog # SKU3130
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name Edward Bulwer Lytton
ISBN 10: 1610335279
ISBN 13: 9781610335270



The Last of the
Roman Tribunes

Edward Bulwer Lytton

From the time of its first appearance, "Rienzi" has had the good fortune to rank high amongst my most popular works though its interest is rather drawn from a faithful narration of historical facts, than from the inventions of fancy. And the success of this experiment confirms me in my belief, that the true mode of employing history in the service of romance, is to study diligently the materials as history; conform to such views of the facts as the Author would adopt, if he related them in the dry character of historian; and obtain that warmer interest which fiction bestows, by tracing the causes of the facts in the characters and emotions of the personages of the time.


I began this tale two years ago at Rome. On removing to Naples, I threw it aside for "The Last Days of Pompeii," which required more than "Rienzi" the advantage of residence within reach of the scenes described. The fate of the Roman Tribune continued, however, to haunt and impress me, and, some time after "Pompeii" was published, I renewed my earlier undertaking. I regarded the completion of these volumes, indeed, as a kind of duty;-for having had occasion to read the original authorities from which modern historians have drawn their accounts of the life of Rienzi, I was led to believe that a very remarkable man had been superficially judged, and a very important period crudely examined. (See Appendix, Nos. I and II.) And this belief was sufficiently strong to induce me at first to meditate a more serious work upon the life and times of Rienzi. (I have adopted the termination of Rienzi instead of Rienzo, as being more familiar to the general reader.-But the latter is perhaps the more accurate reading, since the name was a popular corruption from Lorenzo.) Various reasons concurred against this project-and I renounced the biography to commence the fiction.

I have still, however, adhered, with a greater fidelity than is customary in Romance, to all the leading events of the public life of the Roman Tribune; and the Reader will perhaps find in these pages a more full and detailed account of the rise and fall of Rienzi, than in any English work of which I am aware. I have, it is true, taken a view of his character different in some respects from that of Gibbon or Sismondi. But it is a view, in all its main features, which I believe (and think I could prove) myself to be warranted in taking, not less by the facts of History than the laws of Fiction.

In the meanwhile, as I have given the facts from which I have drawn my interpretation of the principal agent, the reader has sufficient data for his own judgment. In the picture of the Roman Populace, as in that of the Roman Nobles of the fourteenth century, I follow literally the descriptions left to us;-they are not flattering, but they are faithful, likenesses. Preserving generally the real chronology of Rienzi's life, the plot of this work extends over a space of some years, and embraces the variety of characters necessary to a true delineation of events. The story, therefore, cannot have precisely that order of interest found in fictions strictly and genuinely dramatic, in which (to my judgment at least) the time ought to be as limited as possible, and the characters as few;-no new character of importance to the catastrophe being admissible towards the end of the work. If I may use the word Epic in its most modest and unassuming acceptation, this Fiction, in short, though indulging in dramatic situations, belongs, as a whole, rather to the Epic than the Dramatic school.

I cannot conclude without rendering the tribute of my praise and homage to the versatile and gifted Author of the beautiful Tragedy of Rienzi. Considering that our hero be the same-considering that we had the same materials from which to choose our several stories-I trust I shall be found to have little, if at all, trespassed upon ground previously occupied. With the single exception of a love-intrigue between a relative of Rienzi and one of the antagonist party, which makes the plot of Miss Mitford's Tragedy, and is little more than an episode in my Romance, having slight effect on the conduct and none on the fate of the hero, I am not aware of any resemblance between the two works; and even this coincidence I could easily have removed, had I deemed it the least advisable:-but it would be almost discreditable if I had nothing that resembled a performance possessing so much it were an honour to imitate.

In fact, the prodigal materials of the story-the rich and exuberant complexities of Rienzi's character-joined to the advantage possessed by the Novelist of embracing all that the Dramatist must reject (Thus the slender space permitted to the Dramatist does not allow Miss Mitford to be very faithful to facts; to distinguish between Rienzi's earlier and his later period of power; or to detail the true, but somewhat intricate causes of his rise, his splendour, and his fall.)-are sufficient to prevent Dramatist and Novelist from interfering with each other.

600 pages - 7 x 8½ softcover
ISBN-10: 1610335279
ISBN-13: 9781610335270

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