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August 11, 1996|CHARLES SOLOMON

AN IMAGINARY LIFE by David Malouf (Vintage: $11, 154 pp.). In AD 8, Publius Ovidius Naso, the sophisticated Roman poet, was banished by Augustus Caesar to the village of Tomis on the Black Sea, where he spent the last nine years of his life. Working from these facts, Australian novelist David Malouf creates a sensitive portrait of an urbane man at the edge of the known world, banished from the city and the language he loves. Ovid's lonely isolation ends when he encounters a feral child during a deer hunt. The man who epitomizes ancient civilization and the boy who lacks even rudimentary social graces forge a bond that enables them to discover a purer love than either has ever known.

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