The Dream of Scipio, Paperback
3.5 out of 5 (3 ratings)


Set in Provence at three different critical moments of Western Civilisation - the collapse of the Roman Empire in the fifth century, the Black Death in the fourteenth, and the Second World War in the twentieth - The Dream of Scipio follows the fortunes of three men: Manlius Hippomanes, a Gallic aristocrat obsessed with the preservation of Roman civilisation, Olivier de Noyen, a poet, and Julien Barneuve, an intellectual who joins the Vichy government.

The story of each man is woven through the narrative, linked by the classical text that gives the book its title, and by each man's love for an extraordinary woman.

Dense, dark, erudite and yet, like An Instance of the Fingerpost, utterly compelling, The Dream of Scipio confirms Iain Pears as one of Britain's most imaginative novelists.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Publishing
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Crime & mystery
  • ISBN: 9780099284581



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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

This was ultimately a very moving story but it took me quite a while to get fully into it - nearly half way through in fact. The idea of the three interlinked time periods is a fascinating one, but the changes between each were often a bit too frequent for me to feel immersed in the story initially, even though I am very interested in all the periods themselves. When I started to feel properly engaged just under half way through, it took off, especially as the similarities between the crisis points in history emerged, the sense of civilisation crumbling around the protagonists and the same scapegoats, the Jews, often being blamed. The fates of the various characters were moving, especially Olivier in the Medieval timeline and Julien and Julia in the WWII one. A worthwhile read then, for which a little effort repays. 4/5

Review by

This is an ambitious novel dealing with issues surrounding love, faith and power as Pears interweaves the stories of three men who live in Avignon during different, but eventful, periods of history. Unfortunately Pears doesn't quite carry it off, and as a result I didn't care about the ultimate fates of the three men and the women that they loved. Which is a shame because Pears has some interesting ideas.

Review by

An ambitious three-part history set in Provence in 475, 1300's & 1940's. Not as successful as his earlier Instance of a Fingerpost.Read Samoa Jan 2004

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