Full Circle, By Ferdinand Mount

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The Independent Culture

"Elegant, interesting and funny," says The Independent quote on the cover, though the hardback review also included the words "oxymoronic" and "limping". Well, this Independent review says: overblown, verbose and unpersuasive.

Mount's thesis is that there are powerful parallels between the classical world and now, but he fails to come up with the goods. A visit to the Turkish Baths in Harrogate, where Mount snobbishly notes, "rosy Yorkshire buttocks... plump Yorkshire cheeks", does not persuade the reader that the Baths of Caracalla have returned.

The section on food relies heavily on Norman Douglas. Mount's insistence on "this-worldly life set out for us by... Douglas" is a bizarre view of the author of Venus in the Kitchen, described in the Oxford Companion to Food as "feeble".