Manfredi, Valerio Massimo 1943-

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

MANFREDI, Valerio Massimo 1943-

PERSONAL: Born 1943; married; children: two.

ADDRESSES: Home—Near Bologna, Italy. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Mondadori, Segreteria Letteraria, 20090 Segrate M1, Italy.

CAREER: University of Milan, Milan, Italy, professor of classical archeology.

AWARDS, HONORS: Man of the Year award, American Biographical Institute, 1999.

WRITINGS:

Anabasi/Senofonte, Rusconi (Milan, Italy), 1980.

Petra e le città morte della Siria, Instituto geografico de Agnostini (Novara, Italy), 1983.

Palladion: romanzo A. Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1985.

Lo scudo di Talos, A. Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1988.

L'oracolo, A. Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1990.

Mare greco: eroi ed esploratori nel Mediterraneo antico, A. Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1992.

(With Luigi Malnati) Gli Etruschi in Val Padna, Saggiatore (Milan, Italy), 1991.

Le Isole Fortunate: topografia di un mito, "L'Erma" di Bretschneider (Rome, Italy), 1993-95.

Le paludi di Hesperia, A. Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1994.

(With Giorgio Celli and Francesco Guccini) Storie d'inverno (stories), A. Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1994.

Tesori dal buio: le inchieste del colonnello, Editalia (Rome, Italy), 1994.

(With Maurizio Baroni) Platea in piedi: manifesti e dati statistici del italiano/Italian Cinema—Posters and Statistical Data, Bolelli (Bologna, Italy), 1995-1999.

(With Lorenzo Braccesi) I Greci d'Occidente, A. Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1996.

La torre della solitudine, A. Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1996.

Aléxandros, A. Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1998, translation by Iain Halliday published in three volumes as Alexander: Child of a Dream, Alexander: The Sands of Ammon, and Alexander: The Ends of the Earth, Macmillan (New York, NY), 2001.

Il faraone delle sabbie, A. Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1998.

(With Veceslas Kruta) I celti in Italia, A. Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 1999.

Akropolis: la grande epopea di Atene, A. Mondadori (Milan, Italy), 2000.

Manfredi's books have been translated into several languages, including Spanish, French, German, Greek, and Russian.

ADAPTATIONS: The "Alexander" trilogy was adapted as an audiobook and movie rights bought by Hollywood studio.

WORK IN PROGRESS: A movie screenplay of the "Alexander" trilogy.

SIDELIGHTS: For his colorful personality and infectious love of adventure, Italian archeologist and author Valerio Massimo Manfredi is known as the "Indiana Jones of Italian archeology." In addition to his numerous topographical studies of archeological sites, Manfredi has penned the best-selling "Alexander" trilogy: Alexander: Child of a Dream, Alexander: The Sands of Ammon, and Alexander: The Ends of the Earth. Selling over three million copies world-wide, the trilogy was optioned for a movie, for which Manfredi planned to write the screenplay.

Manfredi has long enjoyed a good story, as he told Times reporter James Christopher: "I grew up in a small village where the only opportunity for adventure was the beggars who turned up in the bitter cold during winter. We would give them shelter in the barn and these nomads would tell splendid stories." As a professor of archeology at the University of Milan, Manfredi was asked to serve as a consultant for a crew making a German documentary film about Alexander the Great, the ancient king of Macedonia known for his exploits in battle. This experience prompted Manfredi to write his own biography of the great man.

Working in an isolated house without amenities high in the Alps, Manfredi often used music to get in the right mood for the episode to be told. "I worked for fourteen months straight, nine or ten hours a day, no vacation, no Sundays, just full immersion," Manfredi recalled to Bookseller interviewer Benedicte Page. "At the end I was exhausted, and of course the book was not perfect, but it was full of emotions—I was totally involved in the world." The world of Alexander, that is, which Manfredi recreated in his mind from the numerous bits of information he amassed as a scholar of the classical world. Manfredi portrays Alexander's boyhood as the son of Philip of Macedon and his queen, Olympias. As well as a military education, Alexander received an intellectual education at the hands of Aristotle. At age nineteen, Alexander took over the kingship after his father was murdered, and he began his famous campaigns to conquer the known world.

Critics noted the authenticity of Manfredi's portrayal of the ancient world. Books reviewer Fred Newman praised Manfredi for his attention to detail, stating, "His detailed knowledge of the ancient world has been skilfully woven into the fabric of Alexander." So too, Christopher remarked, "What distinguishes Manfredi's trilogy is the spicy authenticity of his scenarios: the food, clothes, songs, swear words, characters, and provenance of the prostitutes sets pulses racing. Even the dialogue has been shrimped from the plays and comedies of the time."

According to several critics, the trilogy contains some flaws, however. In a review of the audiobook version for the London Times, Sue Townsend commented that the "prose is purple at times," and in Publishers Weekly a reviewer remarked that, although Manfredi "balances the action and characterization that brings Alexander and Memnon to life," he omits potentially interesting personality details and the writing style is rather flat. Times Literary Supplement's Emily Wilson noted that though Manfredi has "tried hard to be true to the historical and literary sources, . . . there are some odd scholarly slips." She felt, moreover, that the "novels come alive only in the battle scenes." Despite any perceived flaws, Karen Robinson of the London Times described the three-volume tale as "gripping stuff."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Bookseller, August 17, 2001, Benedicte Page, "Manfredi the Conqueror," p. 38.

Books Magazine, spring, 2001, Fred Newman, "Fear and Loathing in Ancient Greece," pp. 14-15.

Publishers Weekly, March 4, 2002, review of Alexander: The Sands of Ammon, pp. 58-59.

Times (London, England), August 8, 2001, James Christopher, "Alexander's Bigtime Fans," p. 22; March 2, 2002, Sue Townsend, review of Alexander: Child of a Dream (audiobook), p. 17; March 3, 2002, Karen Robinson, review of Alexander: Child of a Dream (audiobook), p. 45.

Times Literary Supplement, February 8, 2002, "Superman in Sandals," p. 23.*