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Dark Water: Art, Disaster, and Redemption in Florence

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Dark Water: Art, Disaster, and Redemption in Florence Cover

ISBN13: 9780767926492
ISBN10: 0767926498
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

This dramatic, beautifully written account of the flood that ravaged Florence, Italy, in 1966 weaves heartbreaking tales of the disaster and stories of the heroic global efforts to save the city's treasures against the historic background of Florence's glorious art.

On November 4, 1966, Florence, one of the world's most historic cities and the repository of perhaps its greatest art, was struck by a monumental calamity. A low-pressure system had been stalled over Italy for six weeks and on the previous day it had begun to rain again. Nineteen inches fell in twenty-four hours, more than half of the annual total. By two o'clock in the morning twenty-thousand cubic feet of water per second was moving towards Florence. Soon manhole covers in Santa Croce were exploding into the air as jets of water began shooting out of the now overwhelmed sewer system. Cellars, vaults, and strong-rooms were filling with water. Night watchmen on the Ponte Vecchio alerted the bridge's jewelers and goldsmiths to come quickly to rescue their wares. By then the water was moving at forty miles per hour at a height of twenty-four feet. At 7: 26 a.m. all of Florence's electric civic clocks came to a stop. The Piazza Santa Croce was under twenty-two feet of water. Beneath the surface, twelve feet of mud, sewage, debris, and oil sludge were starting to ooze and settle into the cellars and crypts and room after room above them. Six-hundred-thousand tons of it would smother, clot, and encrust the city.

Dark Water brings the flood and its aftermath to life through the voices of witnesses past and present. Two young American artists wade heedlessly through the inundated city carrying their baby in order towitness its devastated beauty: the Ponte Vecchio buried in debris and Ghiberti's panels from the doors of the Florence Baptistery, lying heaped in yard-deep mud; the swamped Uffizi Gallery; and, in the city libraries, one billion pages of Renaissance and antique books, soaked in mire. A Life magazine photographer, stowing away on an army helicopter, arrives to capture a drama that, he felt, could only be told by Dante amid the flooded tombs of Machiavelli and Michelangelo in Giotto and Vasari's Santa Croce. A British student, one of thousands of mud angels who rushed to Florence to save its art, spends a month scraping mud and mold from Cimabue's magnificent and neglected Crocifisso as intrigues and infighting among international art experts and connoisseurs swirl around him. And during the fortieth anniversary commemorations of 2006 the author asks himself why art matters so very much to us, and how beauty seems to somehow save the world even in the face of overwhelming disaster.

Synopsis:

Birthplace of Michelangelo and home to untold masterpieces, Florence is a city for art lovers. But on November 4, 1966, the rising waters of the Arno threatened to erase over seven centuries of history and human achievement.

Now Robert Clark explores the Italian citys greatest flood and its aftermath through the voices of its witnesses. Two American artists wade through the devastated beauty; a photographer stows away on an army helicopter to witness the tragedy first-hand; a British “mud angel” spends a month scraping mold from the worlds masterpieces; and, through it all, an author asks why art matters so very much to us, even in the face of overwhelming disaster.

Synopsis:

A dramatic account of the 1966 flood that ravaged Florence, Italy, Dark Water recreates the disaster and its aftermath through the voices of witnesses, past and present.

Two young American artists wade heedlessly through the inundated city to see its devastated beauty; a Life magazine photographer stows away on an army helicopter to capture a drama that “could only be told by Dante”; a British student, one of thousands of “mud angels” who rushed to Florence to save its art, spends a month scraping mold from Cimabue's ravaged Crucifixion amidst infighting between international art experts; and the author asks himself why art matters so very much to us, even in the face of overwhelming disaster.

About the Author

ROBERT CLARK is the author of the novels In the Deep Midwinter, Mr. Whites Confession, and Love Among the Ruins as well as the nonfiction books My Grandfathers House, River of the West, and The Solace of Food: A Life of James Beard.

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

gege.bau, March 22, 2010 (view all comments by gege.bau)
Lovers of purple prose should enjoy this. The story of the 1966 flood doesn't begin until about 130 pages in. Before that Clark impresses us with his picturesque (not) florentine memoire, then treats us to a fantastic (in the sense of 'fantasy') voyage through his version of art history. After the flood we go back to self-congratulatory memoire mode - all liberally, excrutiatingly, sprinkled with italian terms to indicate Clark's intimacy with his subject. That usually these terms would have made more sense left in English, or that often they were inaccurate or downright wrong, never seems to bother him.

This book promises so much more than it delivers. For anyone looking for a broad overview of florentine art and history, there are many better sources than this. The story of the '66 flood is exciting, complex - and very big. Clark treats it as if the flood only affected the city of Florence, only barely acknowledging the devastation suffered by its people and property. Indeed, the damage done to its artistic patrimony is dramatic - but there is so much more to tell. This flood invaded not only the better part of the Arno valley. It also wreaked havoc along the Sieve, the Mugnone and as far as Mugello.

Are there no fact checkers at Random House? Perhaps Clark was too wrapped up in composing his poetic odes to Icarus to worry about a few bloopers getting through. Wasn't there anyone there to cover for him? Ponte Vecchio is not up-river from Santa Croce. Casa di Dante is not a block away from the Duomo. The Maria Maddalena that was rescued from the Baptistry was Donatello's, not Botticelli's. The original florentines did not descend from Fiesole two millenia ago. And so on and so forth.

I put this one in the category of "highway accident literature" - you know it's going to be awful but you just have to look anyway. As I kept turning the pages, I asked myself why I was wasting my time. Answer: because my morbid curiousity got the better of me.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780767926492
Author:
Clark, Robert
Publisher:
Anchor Books
Subject:
History - Renaissance
Subject:
Europe - Italy
Subject:
Floods -- Italy -- Florence.
Subject:
Florence (Italy) History 1945-
Subject:
European
Subject:
Art - General
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20091031
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
12 PHOTOS IN THE TEXT; 1 MAP
Pages:
368
Dimensions:
8.00x5.26x.77 in. .74 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Arts and Entertainment » Art » Europe General
Arts and Entertainment » Art » General
Arts and Entertainment » Art » History and Criticism
Arts and Entertainment » Art » Italian
History and Social Science » Military » General History
Religion » Comparative Religion » General
Travel » Europe » Italy

Dark Water: Art, Disaster, and Redemption in Florence New Trade Paper
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$16.00 In Stock
Product details 368 pages Anchor Books - English 9780767926492 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , Birthplace of Michelangelo and home to untold masterpieces, Florence is a city for art lovers. But on November 4, 1966, the rising waters of the Arno threatened to erase over seven centuries of history and human achievement.

Now Robert Clark explores the Italian citys greatest flood and its aftermath through the voices of its witnesses. Two American artists wade through the devastated beauty; a photographer stows away on an army helicopter to witness the tragedy first-hand; a British “mud angel” spends a month scraping mold from the worlds masterpieces; and, through it all, an author asks why art matters so very much to us, even in the face of overwhelming disaster.

"Synopsis" by , A dramatic account of the 1966 flood that ravaged Florence, Italy, Dark Water recreates the disaster and its aftermath through the voices of witnesses, past and present.

Two young American artists wade heedlessly through the inundated city to see its devastated beauty; a Life magazine photographer stows away on an army helicopter to capture a drama that “could only be told by Dante”; a British student, one of thousands of “mud angels” who rushed to Florence to save its art, spends a month scraping mold from Cimabue's ravaged Crucifixion amidst infighting between international art experts; and the author asks himself why art matters so very much to us, even in the face of overwhelming disaster.

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