Honestly when I picked up Creation and realized how much reading I had to accomplished I was quite intimidated (by how thick the book is) and not excited in the least (due to the summary on the back cover). I wasn’t pleased to start another book on facts about the different philosophers, but once I relaxed and got well into the story I started to enjoy it. At first it was quite confusing to get used to- since countless characters are just thrown at you for the first 70 pages or so and their names just get jumbled in my head as I mix up their backgrounds and who is friends with whom, and which are Greek versus Persian. Along with the fact that half of their names are spelled similarly, their “family trees” I was trying to imagine get mixed up with incense and confusing border lines. After I started to get the names straight in my head I started wondering how people named their children in those days– did they try to choose the toughest and most intimidating names? or intelligent names after gods for royal children? or did they simply add more syllables to names they wanted to make unique? They never explain how each character recieves their name, and that is one part of the ancient cultures that I would be interested in, since every part of the world (or even each separate family) has different customs, and I wonder how it would affect history if this story was about the famous prophet Billy Brains and his descendant
I started to enjoy reading the book as I figured out how to read the narrator’s voice… dripping with sarcasm and changing topics randomly as if any noise in the room would bring back new memories or distract to a new thought (much like how my own mind works). It was definitely confusing at first as one paragraph was about the past, the next about a present conversation with Democritus, then suddenly Socrates is bursting through the door out of nowhere yelling about court cases. After settling in I realized that while this novel definitely takes an incredible amount of time to sort through characters and digest the facts that are brought up– it is much easier to enjoy than The Theories of Human Nature since it follows a creative and entrancing storyline instead of just spitting out straight boring facts about the history of the theories.
I’m quite impressed by the amount of random facts that Gore Vidal can cram into just one paragraph and I cannot imagine the amounts of research he did in order to draw in so many characters, facts and in a perfect timeline. I’m quite interested in the women in this book as it’s nice to hear about how women actually lived in the cultures and how most were just shunned away from events but a few actually were respected. Go women!!! Even if they were manlike and sat improperly at the dinner table…. but still I’m impressed that a few women were able to find ways to gain power and make their thoughts known. The story of Cyrus’ mother confused me with how she tricked people into thinking she followed Zoroaster’s teachings but was actually a witch trying to help her son go far in life. As the saying goes, “behind each good man is a great woman” (or something close) it makes me wonder if this happened often in that time period. Did women do crazy, sneaky things to help sneak their voices into society? Did they really lie about their beliefs to their own families if it were considered improper? Did they possibly have a greater affect on these philosophers than people give them credit for? It might sound crazy, but is it possible that the way mothers raised their sons and taught them that it could have greatly subconsciously influenced some of the philosophies and teachings of these famous people? This novel definitely makes me think deeper as I start to wonder how the timeline or theories could be affected if small details where changed or never happened and shows more clearly how these philosophies are sometimes similar due to the time period and the people teaching them.