The Ides of March – A Novel [including a vintage photograph of Thornton Wilder during his visit to Frankfurt, Germany in the year 1957 when he accepted the german literary Prize “Friedenspreis des deutschen Buchhandels”].
First Edition (Letters M – W). New York, Harper & Brothers, 1948. Octavo. VIII, 246 pages. Original Hardcover with original dustjacket in protective collector’s mylar. Very good condition with only minor signs of external wear. The dustjacket price-clipped and slightly frayed only. Small sticker of former owner on pastedown: “Mrs. Raymond Ziesmer – Appletree Farm, Julian, California”. The excellent photograph measures 17,5 cm x 23,5 cm. The original and rare press-photograph is titled on the back and the story of the picture is told: (Translates:) “….Thornton Wilder arrived on the 11th of September 1957 on the airport in Frankfurt…On August 6th 1957 he received the “Peace-price of the german Bookseller Association in the Paulskirche [Frankfurt]”.
The Ides of March is an epistolary novel by Thornton Wilder that was published in 1948. It is, in the author’s words, ‘a fantasia on certain events and persons of the last days of the Roman republic… Historical reconstruction is not among the primary aims of this work’. The novel deals with the characters and events leading to, and culminating in, the assassination of Julius Caesar.
American publisher Bennett Cerf remarked at that year’s meeting of the American Booksellers Association that there had been “only three novels published since the first of the year that were worth reading … Cry, The Beloved Country, The Ides of March, and The Naked and the Dead. Wilder himself once wrote that the book was “a kind of crossword puzzle” that “only begins to speak at its second reading.” Edmund Fuller called the novel “a text so rich that it requires exploration rather than reading.″
The novel is divided into four books, each of which starts earlier and ends later than the previous book. Catullus’ poems and the closing section by Suetonius are the only documents of the book which are not imagined; however, many of the events are historical, such as Cleopatra’s visit to Rome.
Though the novel describes events leading up to Caesar’s assassination on 15 March 44 BC a number of earlier events are described as if they were contemporary. Thus, the violation of the Bona Dea mysteries by Publius Clodius Pulcher, Caesar’s subsequent divorce of his second wife Pompeia, and the circulation of two poems by Catullus suggesting that Caesar and his engineer, Mamurra, were lovers (and Catallus’s subsequent apology) are transposed from December 62 BC to December 45 BC. In addition, many of the characters depicted as living in the novel were actually dead by 44 BC, including M. Porcius Cato (in 46 BC), Catullus (in c. 54 BC), Julia Marcia (in 69 BC) and Clodius (in 52 BC). (Wikipedia)