Ackroyd's 'Fall' Looks at Historical Obsession

By Rutten, Tim | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, November 18, 2007 | Go to article overview

Ackroyd's 'Fall' Looks at Historical Obsession


Rutten, Tim, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


At 58, Peter Ackroyd is one of those erudite English word machines whose career you can call capacious and still feel as if you're understating things.

His nearly 30 books for adults -- there are others for children - - include prize-winning novels, full-dress literary biographies and nonfiction treatments that include transvestism as well as his beloved London. There are, of course, collections of poetry and criticism, as well as a remarkable life of Thomas More.

History has been the mortar that binds the Ackroyd edifice together, though he likes to moisten his facts with a knowing sort of irreverence until they're malleable enough to yield to the trowel of his prose. It's a thinking person's playfulness, the product of deep research and a certain distaste for piety, which is quite different from impiety.

"The Fall of Troy," Ackroyd's 13th novel, is an oddly engaging -- sometimes just odd -- little story. The book is a slyly manipulated gloss on the most famous incident in the life of Heinrich Schliemann, the controversial 19th century swindler and fabulist- turned-archaeologist who claimed to have discovered Homer's Troy.

Schliemann, the son of a German pastor who lost his pulpit for misappropriating church funds, was a baffling figure, a barely educated grocer's apprentice who claimed to have acquired a life- long love of Homer's "Iliad" by listening to a drunken customer declaim the story.

Eventually, Schliemann made his way to the California gold fields, where he made a fortune from a bank that bought and sold gold dust. He absconded on his partner and settled in St. Petersburg, where he took a Russian wife and made a great fortune profiteering in the Crimean War. He returned to the U.S. and lied about his immigration status to obtain an Indiana divorce in absentia.

Wealthy and with an unshakable faith in Homer's historical veracity, Schliemann set out to prove that the events in the "Iliad" and "Odyssey" actually occurred. In quick succession, he claimed to have found and excavated Ithaca, Troy and Mycenae.

Schliemann's idealism and his glancing relationship with the truth meshed conveniently, and he stole various artifacts, salted his digs with others and may even have commissioned forgeries, including the famed "mask of Agamemnon" he claimed to have "discovered" at Mycenae. If the storied "treasure of Priam" that he purportedly uncovered at Troy actually came from the site, it predated Homer's war by at least 1,000 years. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Ackroyd's 'Fall' Looks at Historical Obsession
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.