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The Unwilling Vestal   By: (1866-1934)

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The Unwilling Vestal A Tale of Rome under the Caesars


EDWARD LUCAS WHITE Author of "El Supremo"

This book presents, for the first time in fiction, a correct and adequate account of the Vestal Virgins, their powers and privileges, as well as of many strange Roman customs and beliefs.

The author combines the power of writing a rattling good story with a sound and full knowledge of conditions of the life which he is depicting. Mr. White brings to the history of Rome all the picturesqueness and power which made his South American novel, "El Supremo," so remarkable. The result is a vivid pageant of imperial Rome and Roman life at the height of its power and splendor.

End of Jacket Blurb


Readers of who are not acquainted at first hand with the lighter and more intimate literature of the Romans may be surprised to discover that the lights of Roman high society talked slang and were interested in horseracing. Most writers who have tried to draw Roman society for us have been either ignorant or afraid of these facts. The author of is neither. He presents to us the upper class Romans exactly as they reveal themselves in the literature of their day; excitable, slangy, sophisticated and yet strangely credulous, enthusiastic sportsmen, hearty eaters and drinkers, and unblushingly keen on the trail of the almighty denarius. In a word, very much like the most up to date American society of to day.

The Publishers feel that it is only fair that it should be made plain that the great difference between the Roman society folk of and those appearing in other novels is due to the author's thorough acquaintance with the people and the period about which he is writing.

Incidentally, the Publishers wish to thank Mr. C. Powell Minnegerode, the Curator of the Corcoran Gallery of Art of Washington, D. C., for his permission to reproduce Leroux' beautiful painting "The Vestal Tuccia" for use on the wrapper of the volume.

[wrapper not available PG ed.]

End of Publisher's Note

PREFACE by author

The title of this romance is likely to prejudice any reader against it. There exists a popular delusion that fiction with a classical setting is bound to be dull and lumbering, that it is impossible for it to possess that quality of bravura slangily denominated "punch." Anybody will be disabused of that notion upon reading this story.


On the other hand, after having read it, almost any one will be likely to imagine that a novel with so startling a heroine and with incidents so bizarre cannot possibly be based on any sound and genuine knowledge of its background; that the author has conjured out of his fantasy not only his plot and chief characters, but also their world; that he has created out and out not merely his Vestal, but his Vestals, their circumstances and the life which they are represented as leading: that he has manufactured his local color to suit as he went along.

Nothing could be further from the actuality. The details of rule and ritual, of dress and duties, of privileges and punishments are set forth in accordance with a full first hand and intimate acquaintance with all available evidence touching the Vestals; including all known inscriptions relating to them, every passage in Roman or Greek literature in any way concerning them, the inferences drawn from all existing or recorded sculptures and coins which add to our knowledge of them, and every treatise written since the revival of learning in Europe in which the Vestals are discussed. The story contains no preposterous anachronisms or fatuous absurdities. Throughout, it either embodies the known facts or is invented in conformity with the known facts... Continue reading book >>

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