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My Roman History

My Roman History

Author Alizah Holstein
Publisher Penguin
Publication Date 2024-06-25
Section New Hardcover - Biography
Type New
ISBN 9780593490082

“A lyrical and moving exploration of the ways in which the heart governs even the pursuit of a life of the mind, this a book for anyone who has ever loved Rome, as well as anyone who shares the experience of having found, in an unfamiliar history, their own unexpected home.” —Rebecca Mead, author of My Life in Middlemarch and Home/Land In this exquisite and profound memoir, a medieval historian traces her lifelong obsession with Rome and the encounters with the city’s past and present that became fulcrum points in her life From the time she first felt called to its gates as a high school student fascinated by Dante and Italian thanks to a life-changing teacher, Rome has been a fixed star around which Alizah Holstein’s life has rotated—despite the fact that she bears no Italian heritage, and has never lived there long enough to call it home. In this kaleidoscopic yet intimate memoir, her shifting relationship to a vibrant city layered with human history becomes a lens on why we look to the past, on the mysteries of affinity and desire, and on what it means to grow up. Holstein weaves the stories of Romans past and present, and encounters with the city of historical figures from Petrarch to Freud, into the narrative of her evolution from a curious student abuzz with the thrill of discovery, to a lonely researcher in a city to which she feels she belongs despite knowing no one, to an ambitious young historian struggling to find her place in the halls of academia. Following a trail of memories—that first taste of a tartufo cioccolato in Piazza Navona, the ancient walls of the Via Appia blurring from the back of a motorcycle, the smudge of ink on a manuscript left by a scribe's hand over seven hundred years before—she explores what it means to be romana, Roman—and to find solace and self-knowledge in the presence of the past. An enveloping, original, and deeply resonant account, set against one of the world's most beguiling cities, of the unexpected things that give our lives meaning, My Roman History is a profound depiction of the winding path to self-realization, which—much like history itself—is mysterious, captivating, and ever-unfolding.

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