So What Are You Reading?

Reviews of Books.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Brass Bell

The Brass Bell: Or, The Chariot of Death, a Tale of Caesar's Gallic Invasion by Eugène Sue
The Brass Bell is the second of a series of 19 novels called The Mysteries of the People; or History of a Proletarian Family Across the Ages that was written from 1849-1857. It was translated 1n 1907 by Solon De Leon the son of Daniel De Leon, Marxist theoretician and leader of the Socialist Labor Party who published the series in his New York Labor News Press. Sue created the series to be a European history depicting the struggle between the ruling and the ruled classes.
One family, the descendants of a Gallic chief named Joel, represent the oppressed who write and pass on the story as a reminder to their descendants to never forgive their oppressors. The Brass Bell, written down by Joel's son Guilhern, tells the story of Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul at the Battle of Vannes in Brittany from the Gallic point of view. The first 5 chapters tell of Guilhern's brother Albinik the mariner and his wife Meroë as they seek to destroy the Roman fleet. This is followed by Guilhern's account of the land battle and his capture. The book ends with the aftermath of the battle as Guilhern is sold into slavery.
Gallic virtues and Roman decadence are the theme of this book. The good farmers tilling their soil and the professional soldiers who attack them are contrasted sharply. Sue has provided a thoughtful alternative to Caesar's own writings on The Gallic Wars.


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