Mega Dose

The New Republic Online
Thursday, January 11th, 2007
Voice your opinion about this review by
posting a comment on the blog


The Aeneid

by Virgil and Robert Fagles

Passions and a Man

A review by Emily Wilson

Virgil was the closest thing to the poet laureate of Augustan Rome. Augustus saw himself as the liberator of the Roman people, the man who had brought peace after years of civil war, and who controlled and expanded Rome's enormous empire. The new ruler was eager to find artists and poets to celebrate and to immortalize his achievements. But many of the most talented poets of the age -- including Horace, Propertius, and Ovid -- refused to write the grand political epic that Augustus hoped for. Only Virgil came close to giving the emperor what he wanted. The close association between the Aeneid and imperial power has made many readers uncomfortable with it -- including, perhaps, Virgil himself.

The poet, who lived from 70 to 19 B.C.E., spent ten years on the Aeneid, and it was still unfinished at the time of his death. Legend has it that he ordered his executors to burn the work, although the emperor overrode his dying wishes. Perhaps -- as Hermann Broch suggested in his diffuse, dream-like novel The Death of Virgil -- the poet finally decided that he had gone too far in toadying up to the powers that were. The Aeneid has often been read as a conservative, pro-imperialist, triumphalist celebration of imperialism in general and of the emperor in particular.

It is certainly concerned with the historical power of Rome. Rome is not just any big city (as Troy, in the Iliad, could be any city under siege, or Ithaca, in the Odyssey, any homeland). Rome, for Virgil, is the culmination of history. The poem looks obliquely at the contemporary Rome of the poet's own day, from the perspective of the distant mythological past. But the Aeneid remains deeply rooted in the history of its time. Auden famously criticized Virgil for his craven attempt to make the particularities of his own time look like universal truth, and to make Augustan Rome seem the culmination of a progressive world history:

No, Virgil, no:
Behind your verse so masterfully made
We hear the weeping of a Muse betrayed.

But as even Auden acknowledges, the Aeneid includes the sound of weeping as well as the din of mastery and power.

One can argue that the high cost of empire increases its value: Virgil shows us how much Rome matters by showing us how much pain went into its building. Or one may feel that the heart of the poem lies in the grief of those who lose out to empire. It is ultimately impossible to decide whether Virgil was "for" or "against" Augustus, whether the poem is fundamentally "optimistic" or "pessimistic," whether it is history written for the winners or the losers. These dualisms become too crude to account for the complex texture of the poem, in which Virgil seems always to acknowledge a multi-layered reality. Personal desires are always thwarted by the progress of history. The Aeneid is not merely a celebration of Roman power; it is also an analysis of the costs of empire, both to the conquered and the conquerors.

Virgil was born not in Rome, but in Mantua, near Naples. As Bernard Knox emphasizes in his fine introduction to Robert Fagles's new translation, "Virgil was an Italian long before he became a Roman." He had seen at first hand the damage caused to rural Italians by the long period of civil war. In 42 B.C.E., when Virgil was in his twenties, many land-holdings in the Mantua area were confiscated to reward veteran soldiers after the battle of Philippi. Virgil's own father seems to have been exempt from the expropriation, perhaps through the direct intervention of Octavian (the man who later became Augustus). Virgil's first two works of poetry, the Eclogues and the Georgics, both deal with life in the Italian countryside. Both those works, like the Aeneid itself, present Italy as a place of struggle, where farmers can be evicted from their lands by armies, storms, economic hardship, or foreign invasion.

Virgil returns, in the Aeneid, to the theme of the last book of the Georgics: the contrast between, on the one hand, love, beauty, art, and personal happiness; and, on the other hand, society, order, military success, and self-control. In order to become the founder of Rome, Aeneas must lose almost everything that is of personal value to him. He loses his home, his wife, his father, his lover Dido, the Trojan name of his people, his foster son Pallas -- even, perhaps, his own moral standards, his identity as the "good guy," and his capacity for pity and human sympathy.

T.S. Eliot claimed that the Aeneid is the ultimate "classic": "our classic, the classic of all Europe." It is probably the single text from classical antiquity that has had the longest continuous influence over the later Western tradition. Virgil was more readily assimilated into a Christian school syllabus than the racier classical poets, and he continued to be read throughout the Middle Ages. There was an ancient tradition of misreading Virgil's Fourth Eclogue as a prophecy about the birth of Jesus. The poet, whose real name was Publius Vergilius Maro, was dubbed "Virgil" because his magic wand (virga) can guide even a Christian reader closer to the truth about God, as in Dante's Inferno. The sortes Virgilianae have always been one of the most helpful magical ways to make a decision or to predict the future, and much cheaper than psychic hotlines: just pick a line from Virgil at random and all your questions will be answered.

Yet the central position of the Aeneid in the Western canon is not entirely explicable by the supposedly magical or proto-Christian powers of its author. This poem has continued to be read and re-read for two thousand years because it has never lost its relevance. Almost every country in Europe has seen itself at some point as the new Troy, and hence as the new Rome. The Aeneid is not only a survivor from classical antiquity, but also a poem that is explicitly concerned with the problem of how a lost ancient civilization can be perpetuated in the modern world. Perhaps the lost city of Troy can be rebuilt again, as the newly flourishing world power of Rome, or Constantinople, or Paris, or London, or Washington. Or perhaps we can create a new and peaceful society only by forgetting our history: as Juno says in the twelfth book of the poem: "Troy has fallen -- and fallen let her stay!"

In our day, however, for almost the first time since its composition, the Aeneid has slipped from its place as the central text in Western educational systems. In 106, 1406, 1706, or 1906, it would have been unimaginable that somebody could be considered fully educated and not have read a word of the Aeneid in the original Latin. This is no longer the case; I imagine that a large number of the intellectual readers of this magazine have never learned any Latin. Perhaps for this very reason, there has never been a more interesting time to read the Aeneid. If you have not been forced through Latin grammar in your earliest youth, and if you do not harbor the presupposition that the Aeneid is a poem of the conservative establishment, then you are in an excellent position to see the contemporary relevance of Virgil, particularly for Americans.

It is a poem about the formation of a vast imperial power, and the human cost of that process. The second half of the Aeneid, in which the Trojans fight against the Rutulians -- a group of native inhabitants -- has clear resonance with the beginnings of American colonial history, and even with the current war in Iraq. Aeneas has no difficulty establishing an initial stronghold in Italy; the difficult thing is to pacify the natives and to win the peace. Virgil's analysis of the formation of a multicultural society -- composed of Latins, Rutulians, and Trojans, all mixed together and speaking the same language, forgetful of their historical differences -- is an obvious prototype for modern America. Aeneas's difficulties are those that face anybody trying to create a multi-ethnic, racially mixed society: what to do about minorities; how to integrate different histories and different cultural traditions; how to maintain order and avert civil war, but without suspending the rule of law or violating citizens' rights. How can we guarantee that force is used properly? At what point should we say "no mercy" and give up habeas corpus? The poem shows us what a thin line there may be between mastery and brutality. It shows, too, how a dominant world power may take on the rhetoric of the underdog: the triumphant Romans present themselves as poor, defeated Trojans. All wars are fought for redemption and retaliation and pre-emptive self-defense, never in outright aggression.

Different translators will give the Latin-less reader very different images of Virgil's poem. The most commonly read verse translations, before Fagles, are those by Allen Mandelbaum (1971), Robert Fitzgerald (1981), and Stanley Lombardo (2005). Mandelbaum's Aeneid has an otherworldly, fluid rhythm, and uses a pentameter inflected by Dante's terza rima. Composed during the Vietnam War, this version of the poem makes particularly clear the personal voice of loss, within the grand imperial quest. Fitzgerald's Aeneid is much grander, more obviously "epic," more focused on the Roman achievement than on its cost. Echoing the density of Virgil's language, Fitzgerald's English is deliberately slow, stiff, and often slightly archaic. Lombardo's Aeneid is a completely different poem again: a fast-moving, exciting adventure story, about a man who achieves his goal despite many obstacles.

Robert Fagles's Aeneid is, I think, the best translation of our age. It is lively and colloquial, though it uses a somewhat slower pace than Lombardo. This is an advantage. Fagles allows us to pause before rushing on to the next event. There are some wonderfully vivid descriptions. Here is the simile comparing the Golden Bow to an evergreen plant:

As mistletoe in the dead of winter's icy forests
leafs with life on a tree that never gave it birth,
embracing the smooth trunk with its pale yellow bloom,
so glowed the golden foliage against the ilex evergreen.

Fagles makes beautiful use of alliteration and assonance for this strange, mystical moment. He is equally good at the gory bits. Here is Camilla, the Amazon warrior princess, chopping up a Trojan on the battlefield:

her battle-ax smashes down,
blow after blow through armor,
bone, splitting his skull,
warm brains from the wound go
splashing down his face.

One of the hardest tasks facing any modern translator of the Aeneid is how to make Virgil sound suitably dignified. Virgil did not write in street Latin. He observes careful decorum -- far more so than Homer. At the funeral games in the Iliad, Ajax slips in horse manure. There is no manure in Virgil. He chooses the more dignified register over the more colloquial. Thus, the colloquial Latin word for kiss was basium (as in Catullus, da mi basia mille, "give me a thousand kisses"); but Virgil invariably uses the more elevated literary word, osculum.

The danger, for a contemporary English translator who hopes to echo Virgil's language, is that a would-be elevated, epic tone will sound stilted, pompous, and unreadable -- or just silly. Dryden, whose 1697 version of the Aeneid remains one of the most powerful English translations, was at an advantage, because English heroic poetry was a living possibility at that period: Paradise Lost had been published only a few decades earlier. But a modern translator has no contemporary tradition of English epic to draw on.

In general, Fagles is extremely successful at creating a voice that sounds like modern English but maintains a reasonably dignified register. He uses a relatively long, roughly six-beat line, which has a number of advantages over the more common iambic pentameter. It is closer to Virgil's dactylic hexameter, and it allows Fagles to create more movement within his line and to use more effective enjambment. By contrast, Lombardo's short, snappy tetrameters feel to me a little too end-stopped, a little too abrupt. Consider the famous first lines of the poem: Arma virumque cano, Troiae qui primus ab oris. ... Here is Lombardo:

Arms I sing -- and a man,
The first to come from the shores
Of Troy, exiled by Fate, to Italy
and the Lavinian coast....

Lombardo here takes two and a half lines to cover the material that Virgil packs into his first line. Fagles, by contrast, manages to retain some of the complexity and weight of Virgil's narrative voice, but without sacrificing readability.

Wars and a man I sing -- an exile
driven on by Fate,
he was the first to flee the coast
of Troy,
destined to reach Lavinian shores
and Italian soil....

Fagles takes us -- as Virgil does -- in medias res, "into the middle of the action," in the very first line.

It is probably impossible to find a precise modern English equivalent to the extraordinarily dense music of Virgil's hexameter, which is both highly regular and highly varied. We have become used to the idea that the English "equivalent" to the classical hexameter -- and especially to the Virgilian hexameter -- is iambic pentameter. One of the first attempts to translate Virgil into English verse was by Robert Surrey, who published his Book Four in 1554 and Book Two in 1557. Surrey's translations of the Aeneid were the first-ever instances of English unrhymed iambic pentameter. Fairly few verse translators of Virgil since Surrey have tried anything other than iambic pentameter. Lombardo uses a kind of tetrameter; L.R. Lind in 1962 and Edward McCrorie in 1995 experimented with dactylic pentameter; James Mantinband tried hexameter in 1964, not very successfully. But until now the mainstream had been represented by Mandelbaum and Fitzgerald, who work in unrhymed pentameter.

Fagles shows authoritatively that a flexible, mostly six-beat line can work beautifully as an English version of the classical hexameter. He uses roughly six main stresses, occasionally five, occasionally seven. The basic technique was pioneered by Richmond Lattimore in his translations of Homer, but Fagles's version is more varied, more delicately modulated. His Aeneid feels much less compressed than the original, and it is not a line-for-line translation. Yet Fagles's looser, longer line allows him to pack in more information, and in this way to come closer to the plenitude of Virgil's language.

Ezra Pound's favorite version of the Aeneid was by the medieval Scottish poet Gavin Douglas (finished in 1513, published posthumously in 1553). Pound claimed that Douglas had improved on the original, because Douglas, unlike Virgil, had heard the sea. By this criterion, Fagles's Aeneid is certainly the best version since Douglas. Fagles has a marvelous sense for the rollicking rhythms of sea voyages: the pleasures of reading the early books of this Aeneid match those of reading Conrad, or Patrick O'Brian. Here is a characteristically vigorous passage, where Aeneas's fleet runs into a storm off the coast of Sicily:

They snapped to commands,
pulled hard, Palinurus first
to swerve his shuddering prow
to port for open sea
and the whole fleet swung to port
with oars and sails.
Up to the sky an immense billow
hoists us, then at once
as the wave sank down, down
we plunge to the pit of hell.

I don't know if Fagles is a sailor, but he writes like a man who knows the sound and the rhythm of the sea, as well as the meaning of words such as "welter," "yawing," "cables," "squalls," and "killer-breakers."

Fagles's tone is not entirely consistent. Every so often I was bothered by modern proverbs bordering on cliché -- as when Aeneas is stuck "between the devil and the deep blue sea." Sometimes the diction is not quite appropriate to the situation, and there are a few unfortunate comic lapses: Aeneas at his most brutal, triumphing over one of his slaughtered enemies, is made to sound like a hoity-toity Mitford sister: "Now lie there, you great, frightful man!" But more often Fagles's use of colloquialism brings to life even the most familiar lines of Virgil. At the triumphal moment in Book Nine, when Apollo calls down from the sky to praise Iulus (Aeneas's son, and the forefather of Julius Caesar), Fagles achieves just the right tone of schoolmasterly enthusiasm: "Bravo, my boy, bravo," says the god. "That's the path to the stars."

Fagles's sensitivity to Virgil's metaphors is especially impressive. When Dido "feeds" or "nourishes" (alit) the wound of her love for Aeneas, Fagles not only notices the metaphor, but hints at its implications: "hour by hour nursing the wound with her lifeblood." It is as if the love that Dido feels for Aeneas is itself their baby, the fictional baby they never actually have. She nurses her own desire and destruction as if it were a child.

Yet Fagles's most impressive achievement is that he is sensitive to a far wider range of voices and points of view than any previous translator known to me. Fagles shows us, much more clearly than Mandelbaum, Fitzgerald, or Lombardo, that each of the characters in the poem has his or her own different perspective on the story. He shows, too, that this is an enormously emotional poem, which is intensely concerned with the fulfillment and the control of emotions. Most translators are better on one side of the emotional spectrum than another: sorrow or anger, not both. But Fagles renders brilliantly the bitter rage of Juno against the Trojans and the bewilderment of Aeneas as his city is burnt, and also the passionate grief of Dido abandoned by Aeneas, the intense desire of Nisus to die for the sake of the boy he loves, the distinct battle-rages of Mezentius, Camilla, and Aeneas himself -- all with an unmatched vividness.

The Aeneid is a highly literary, highly written work -- but it is written from, and about, the heart. Virgil is far more interested than Homer was in analyzing the internal states, the conflicting emotions, of his characters. Thus the poem traces a connection, through the imagery of fire, from the burning passion of Juno, to the burning of Troy, to the burning heart of Dido, to the flames that mark the house of Julius Caesar and Caesar Augustus, the burning ships of the Battle of Actium, and the burning anger of Aeneas as he kills Turnus. Emotions become the key to history. Fagles, more than any other translator, shows that the Aeneid is a poem of passion.

Fagles comes to the Aeneid after producing highly successful versions of the Iliad and the Odyssey. I admire Fagles's Homer enormously, but I agree somewhat with those who feel that Fagles has a tendency to make his narrative too emotional, too pointed. He is not very successful at conveying the Homeric sense that, whatever happens, the world goes on the same. He leaves out a lot of the repeated epithets (such as "swift-footed Achilles"), or else tries to make them relevant to the particular narrative moment in which they appear. He adds moody parentheses and pauses, which sometimes make the verse seem a little stagey. Fagles's Homer feels like a text written for reading aloud, not like the transcription of an oral epic. (Perhaps for this reason, it makes an excellent audiobook. You can get a boxed set of the Fagles Iliad and Odyssey together, read by Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi. The new Aeneid has been recorded by Simon Callow.)

The Aeneid suits Fagles's pointed narrative style better than the Homeric poems. Virgil nods to Homer by pretending to "sing," like an oral poet, but his work is self-consciously literary, designed for reading aloud or private reading. Just as bear cubs (according to a rather sweet ancient misapprehension) are born unformed and must be licked into shape by their mother, so Virgil said he "licked" his manuscript into its proper form, working at a rate of about three lines a day. Fagles reminds us of Virgil's careful art. He recognizes that Virgil is the most thoughtful of poets, not only as a writer of lines but also as a writer of people, feelings, and visions of the world.

Mikhail Bakhtin once drew a sharp contrast between epic and history, which supposedly employ a single "objective" point of view, and the novel, which is "polyglossic," using many voices and multiple points of view. Like all such charming generalizations, Bakhtin's rule does not really work: the Aeneid is, by these criteria, a novel, not an epic. Fagles's knowledge of nineteenth-century novels certainly helps him to read Virgil. He shows us that the Aeneid is in many ways comparable to Anna Karenina or War and Peace. Like Tolstoy, Virgil sets passionate sexual longing against duty and self-control.

Virgil makes extensive use of limited points of view; of metaphors and similes that may reflect either reality or only a part of it. He even uses that typically novelistic technique, "free indirect discourse." In the Aeneid, we are often aware that we may be seeing only what one character sees -- not the whole world, as if from a god's-eye vision; or that an objective view is not available to those within the story. We are told, for instance, what is depicted on the Shield of Aeneas -- the whole future history of the Roman race; but we are also reminded that our position as readers is very different from that of Aeneas. He has no idea what the future means: "He knows nothing of these events." The limitations of any single person's knowledge is one of the great themes of the poem. There is no such thing as a total vision; there are only partial glimpses, which may be delusions -- as when Aeneas thinks he sees his lost beloved Dido in the underworld: "as one/when the month is young may see or seem to see/the new moon rising up through banks of clouds."

Fagles insists that impressions and value judgments may be entirely subjective. A striking example is his version of the story of Dido. You will remember that Dido is inspired by Juno to fall in love with the Trojan stranger when he is shipwrecked on her shores. In the middle of a thunderstorm, Aeneas and Dido take shelter together in a cave. Juno, goddess of marriage, sends a sudden display of lightning, which seems -- but perhaps only to poor deluded Dido -- to legitimate the beginning of their sexual relationship. At this moment, Virgil tells us, coniugium vocat, hoc pratexit nomine culpam. Dryden translates this line to read that Dido "called it 'marriage,' by that specious name/To veil the crime and sanctify the shame." Fitzgerald is less obviously censorious, but he still insists that Dido was to blame: she "called it marriage. Thus, under that name,/She hid her fault." Despite the grief that all readers cannot but feel for Dido's death, the perception of this character as a fallen woman, whose death is caused by the crime, fault or sin of sexual immorality, has haunted almost every translation of the poem into English. To find more sympathy for Dido, we have to look back as far as Chaucer, who condemns Aeneas's treachery for the poor queen's death.

But Fagles restores Dido's honor without damning Aeneas, by suggesting that what Dido lost in that cave was not her respectability but her self-respect. His Dido

no longer thinks to keep the
affair a secret,
no, she calls it a marriage,
using the word to cloak her sense
of guilt.

This Dido is not a dishonored woman. She is a woman who has lost her sense of her own worth -- an importantly different thing. The interpretation of culpam ("fault" or "guilt") as Dido's perception, not the narrator's objective judgment, is a compelling one, which makes sense of the narrative much better than the fallen-woman story. The narrator insists that Dido is infelix, "unhappy" -- or as Fagles renders the word, "tragic." Fagles brilliantly shows us a Dido whose tragedy -- like the tragedy of Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary -- is largely a product of her own solitary imagination, as in this marvelous passage:

She always feels alone,
abandoned, always wandering down
some endless road,
not a friend in sight....

Fagles emphasizes the subjectivity of other characters' moral judgments, too. Aeneas's central characteristic, his pietas -- duty, filial piety, holiness, morality -- is sometimes rendered by Fagles as his "sense of devotion"; Aeneas's son Ascanius benefits not from his objectively good behavior (mores), but from his "sense of worth." Turnus is spurred on not by his "courage inwardly known" (Fitzgerald's translation of conscia virtus), but by his "sense of his own worth." Indeed, the phrase "sense of ..." threatens to become a tic in the translation.

This extraordinary sensitivity to Virgil's multiple points of view allows Fagles to treat Aeneas, as well as Dido, with more sympathy than most translators can muster. It is a difficult task to bring to life the stiff, passive, sometimes cipher-like hero of the early books of the Aeneid. But Fagles picks up on details that evince Aeneas's humanity, even at his most block-like. When Dido has sent her sister to make her last passionate appeal to her lover to stay -- even if only for a little while, even if he must abandon her in the end -- we are told that Aeneas made no reply at all, and was deaf to Dido's pleas. Dryden makes Aeneas unable even to hear what she is feeling: "Fate, and the god, had stopped his ears to love." Fitzgerald's Virgil comments that "God's will blocked the man's once kindly ears." But both these translations simplify the complex emotional situation that Virgil evokes. The Latin, on the face of it, suggests that Aeneas's ears are still "kindly" (placidas) even when he is refusing to give Dido what she so desperately wants. Fagles credits Aeneas with sympathy at the very moment when he refuses Dido's appeals: "and heaven blocks his gentle, human ears." This translation manages to present Aeneas as a person who has both strength and genuine emotional depths. He is a hero, but more than that, he is a human being, who struggles to remain true to his conviction and his obligation. In reading Fagles, far more than most translators, I believed in Aeneas as a man whose sense of obligation is constantly threatened, and finally overwhelmed, by emotion.

At this moment in American history, we are all conscious that imperialism has a price. President Bush, who was certainly speaking without Virgil in mind, recently declared that "the road to victory will not be easy. We should not expect a simple solution. The fact that the fighting is tough does not mean our efforts in Iraq are not worth it." Such a rhetoric of cost and complexity is strongly reminiscent of Virgil's analysis of empire. As the narrator exclaims at the beginning of the poem: tantae molis erat Romanam condere gentem, "Such a long hard labor it was to found the Roman people."

But Virgil's narrative, unlike that of the president, acknowledges that the perspective of the powerful is not the only one available. Aeneas's dead father, Anchises, tells him in the Underworld that a Roman leader must use the perfect combination of violence and mercy. You must "rule with all your power," but also

Put your stamp on the works and
ways of peace,
to spare the defeated, break the
proud in war.

Fagles is characteristically sensitive to the complexity of this famous injunction, reminding us that the militaristic Roman "stamp" (mos -- custom, culture, ideology) may be difficult to combine with the "works and ways of peace." Contrast Dryden, who suggests that the powerful can do no wrong: "disposing peace and war thy own majestic way"; or Fitzgerald, who assumes that imperialism brings order to anarchic native societies: "to pacify, to impose the rule of law."

In the final lines of the poem, Aeneas the pious, the dutiful and the devoted, becomes inflamed with passionate rage against his enemy Turnus. He rejects Turnus's appeal for mercy, remembering only that this man killed his friend. In his anger, Aeneas seems to forget that being Roman was supposed to include sparing the defeated along with breaking the proud. Or perhaps it is sometimes impossible, in the real world of the living, to distinguish one from the other. Aeneas founds the city of Rome by burying his sword in his enemy's body: the Latin verb condidit (in Fagles, "plants") means both to "found" and to "bury." "Blazing with wrath, he plants/his iron sword hilt-deep in his enemy's heart."

This is perhaps the most disturbing ending of any great epic poem. You could say, with Bush, that Aeneas is simply adapting to the danger posed by Turnus, just as the president's administration is "taking new steps to help secure Baghdad, and constantly adjusting our tactics across the country to meet the changing threat." Perhaps it takes a lot more force than one might have hoped to put a Roman stamp on the "works and ways of peace." But from the perspective of Turnus, Aeneas has committed an "outrage": he has refused an appeal to "go no further down the path of hatred." For Virgil, the critique of empire offered by history's losers cannot be fully incorporated within one dominant, single-voiced discourse. The Aeneid is a poem that glorifies an invasive imperialist war. But it is also a poem that insists that the victors are not the only people who have a valid vision of the world. It recognizes, too, that the resort to arms can sometimes get out of anybody's control, that the cost of victory can be too high, and that the stubborn voice of passion may impede the path to peace.

Emily Wilson teaches classics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Click here to subscribeTry four weeks of the New Republic Digital absolutely free

For nearly 90 years, the New Republic has provided its readers with an intelligent and rigorous examination of American politics, foreign policy, and culture. Today, we're proud to offer a faster, easier, and more economical way to enjoy the magazine — TNR Digital. Subscribe today and we'll give you 4 weeks absolutely free. That's less than 36 cents/week for every word of content available in the print version, a downloadable replica of the print magazine, and an array of special online-only features!

Click here to sign up.

  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at