The Last of the Wine

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Name: The Last of the Wine
Abbreviation(s): LOTW
Creator: Mary Renault
Date(s): 1956
Medium: book
Country of Origin: South Africa
External Links:
Cover of the 1956 Pantheon edition of The Last of the Wine.
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Contents


The Last of the Wine is the first of the ‘Ancient Greece’ novels written by Mary Renault and it remains one of her most popular with fans. It was published simultaneously by Longman (London) and Pantheon (New York) in 1956.

Plot Summary

The Last of the Wine is framed as a partial autobiography of its narrator, Alexias, from his childhood through his coming of age in Athens during the latter stages of its war with Sparta. In his teens, he develops an enduring relationship with Lysis, then a young man in his twenties; they explore philosophy under Sokrates, and compete in games. However, the historical background comes to the fore in the latter portion of the book as he must fight in war both on land and at sea, protect his family during the siege of Athens, and subsequently fight to regain his city from the oligarchs. Renault herself said she revisited in The Last of the Wine many of the themes that she had explored in her previous novel The Charioteer.

Book Discussion

The maryrenaultfics LiveJournal community has twice attempted to complete a chapter-by-chapter (CBC) discussion of The Last of the Wine. In addition, there have been a number of spontaneous unscheduled discussions of aspects of the book.

Scheduled discussions

A discussion was started in September 2005 (to follow in the footsteps of the successful discussion of The Charioteer) but suffered from lack of sustained interest, fizzling out in November half way through the book.[1] Highlights:

  • Discussion about Phaedo in the context of chapters 10 and 11[2]

maryrenaultfics returned to The Last of the Wine with another CBC discussion between September 2009 and March 2010 (with a break for the holiday season). This time, the discussion covered the entire novel, partly because various members of the community were persuaded to make the discussion starter posts for chapters[3]. Highlights:

  • Discussion post for Chapters 1-3 makes comparisons to various other Renault novels [4]

Spontaneous, unscheduled book discussions

The following individual posts on The Last of the Wine are noteworthy:

In Their Own Words

In 2008 maryrenaultfics began a project which involved ‘interviews’ of characters from Renault’s novels. Among those with specifically scheduled, extensive interviews were Alexias and Lysis.[7] In a later complex of posts, Phaedo (along with Bagoas from The Persian Boy) reflected on the experience of being a prostitute[8]; and there was a long discussion of honour, pride and shame that involved Sokrates, Plato and Phaedo,[9] with a shorter follow-up between Phaedo and Bagoas[10].

As well as the major characters, both Alexias's stepmother and stepsister, Arete and Charis, appeared in the ITOWverse Christmas stories of 2009.[11][12][13]

For more detail please see the article about ITOWverse.

Fanfiction

Much of the fanfiction which has developed from The Last of the Wine has focused on the relationship between Alexis and Lysis, with some (not all) 'filling in the gaps' of the 'fade-out' Mary Renault used at the bedroom door, or providing back-story. However, there has also been fanfiction involving other characters, and there has been a recurring humorous thread about frogs[14], as well as the more serious themes about honour and loyalty; the nature of friendship; and parent-child relationships, which are seen in other Renault-based fanfiction.

Fans have occasionally requested The Last of the Wine stories in Yuletide fanfiction exchange, with two stories written for Yuletide 2008.[15], one for Yuletide 2010. [16], and one ficlet written for Yuletide Madness 2011.

Archives

Notable Stories

The following fan fiction has been based on The Last of the Wine and its characters. The stories have been organized by their main focus.

Alexias and Lysis

Other Characters

Back-story and Filling in Gaps

Sequels

Crossovers

References

  1. The Last of the Wine chapter-by-chapter discussion on maryrenaultfics in 2005
  2. Discussion on Phaedo and chapters 10 and 11 in general started by cyberducks, 2 November 2005. Accessed 14 August 2010.
  3. The Last of the Wine 2009-2010 discussion schedule and admin
  4. The Last of the Wine CBC discussion, Chapters 1-3, post started by trueriver on maryrenaultfics, 20 September 2009. Accessed 14 August 2010.
  5. Book discussion: metaphor in "The Last of the Wine" post by hulamoth to the maryrenaultfics community, 19 June 2007. Accessed 4 August 2010.
  6. Admiring the first sentence of The Last of the Wine on maryrenaultfics, 5 August 2005. Accessed 14 August 2010.
  7. Lysis: In His Own Words post by my_cnnr on maryrenaultfics, 24 March 2008. Accessed 27 July 2010.
  8. In their Own Words: The Ancient Greece Novels post by my_cnnr on maryrenaultfics, 4 May 2008. Accessed 27 July 2010.
  9. Sokrates and Friends thread started by fawatson on maryrenaultfics, 24 May 2008. Accessed 27 July 2010.
  10. Phaedo and Bagoas thread started by fawatson on maryrenaultfics, 26 May 2008. Accessed 27 July 2010.
  11. Arete in "Christmas at the Clubhouse - Christians Awake, Salute the Happy Morn!" posted 26 December 2009. Accessed 27 July 2010.
  12. Charis in "Christmas at the Clubhouse - O Starry Night!" posted 24 December 2009. Accessed 27 July 2010.
  13. Charis in "Christmas at the Clubhouse - Christmas Morning", posted 25 December 2009. Accessed 27 July 2010.
  14. hulamoth's post on maryrenaultfics on symbolism and frogs 19 June 2007, accessed 25 July 2010.
  15. The Last of the Wine stories written for Yuletide in the Yuletide archive. Accessed 12 August 2010.
  16. Trust written for trueriver as a part of Yuletide 2010. Accessed 06 January 2011.
  17. "Honour" by fawatson, as archived on AO3. Accessed 6 January 2012.
  18. [1] "Crossroads" by fawatson"Crossroads" by fawatson, as archived on maryrenaultfics Accessed 9 January 2013.
  19. "Stele" by fawatson, as archived on AO3. Accessed 6 January 2012.
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