In this ambitious and intriguing experiment, Speller seeks a new approach to historical writing, one that brings the lessons of the New Journalism to help us understand the distant past. This volume follows Hadrian's career as he travelled across the breadth of the empire, trying to reason out human meaning of Hadrian's ill-fated relationship with a sensuous and soon-to-be-divine boy, Antinous. Speller uses the full modern arsenal -- novelistic technique, synthetic memoir, interjecting the author as a character and showing the process of writing -- pioneered by Capote, Mailer, and Wolfe.
This is an intriguing approach to the dual narrative of ancient history, the twin stories of "what happened?" and "how do we know, where might we be wrong?" Steller shows a way to rescue the second narrative from footnotes and apparatus. In this case, perhaps, we know too little to make it a fully convincing demonstration, but it's a very interesting and promising approach.