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Venice: Pure Cityby Peter Ackroyd
Synopses & Reviews
Peter Ackroyd at his most magical and magisterial — a glittering, evocative, fascinating, story-filled portrait of Venice.
In this sumptuous vision of Venice, Peter Ackroyd turns hisunparalleled skill at evoking place from London and the River Thames, to Italy and the city of myth, mystery and beauty, set like a jewel in its glistening lagoon. His account is at once romantic and packed with facts, conjuring up the atmosphere of the canals, bridges and sunlit squares, the churches and the markets, the fiestas and the flowers. He leads us through the history of the city, from the first refugees arrivingin the mists ofthe lagoon in the fourth century to the rise of a great mercantile state and a trading empire, the wars against Napoleon and the tourist invasions of today.
Everything is here: the merchants on theRialto and the Jews in the ghetto; the mosaics of St Mark's and the glass blowers of Murano; the carnival masks and the sad colonies of lepers; the doges and the destitute and the artists with their passion for colour andform — Bellini, Titian, Tintoretto, Tiepolo. There are wars and sieges, scandals and seductions, fountains playing in deserted squares and crowds thronging the markets. And there is a dark undertone too, of shadowycorners and dead ends, prisons and punishment.
The language and way of thinking of the Venetians sets them aside from the rest of Italy. They are an island people, linked to the sea and to the tidesrather than the land. 'The moon rules Venice, ' Ackroyd writes: 'It is built on ocean shells and ocean ground; it has the aspect of infinity. It is the floating world... changing and variable and accidental.'This book, likea magic gondola, transports its readers to that sensual, surprising realm. We could have no better guide — reading Ackroyd's Venice is, in itself, a glorious journey and the perfectholiday.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
An evocative portrait of Italy's "City of Water" draws on historical and cultural sources to provide richly detailed descriptions of everything from Venice's canals and bridges to its churches and marketplaces, citing the events and people that have shaped its evolution. By the author of Thames.
Peter Ackroyd at his most magical and magisterial—a glittering, evocative, fascinating, story-filled portrait of Venice, the ultimate city.
The Venetians’ language and way of thinking set them aside from the rest of Italy. They are an island people, linked to the sea and to the tides rather than the land. This latest work from the incomparable Peter Ackroyd, like a magic gondola, transports its readers to that sensual and surprising city.
His account embraces facts and romance, conjuring up the atmosphere of the canals, bridges, and sunlit squares, the churches and the markets, the festivals and the flowers. He leads us through the history of the city, from the first refugees arriving in the mists of the lagoon in the fourth century to the rise of a great mercantile state and its trading empire, the wars against Napoleon, and the tourist invasions of today. Everything is here: the merchants on the Rialto and the Jews in the ghetto; the glassblowers of Murano; the carnival masks and the sad colonies of lepers; the artists—Bellini, Titian, Tintoretto, Tiepolo. And the ever-present undertone of Venice’s shadowy corners and dead ends, of prisons and punishment, wars and sieges, scandals and seductions.
Ackroyd’s Venice: Pure City is a study of Venice much in the vein of his lauded London: The Biography. Like London, Venice is a fluid, writerly exploration organized around a number of themes. History and context are provided in each chapter, but Ackroyd’s portrait of Venice is a particularly novelistic one, both beautiful and rapturous. We could have no better guide—reading Venice: Pure City is, in itself, a glorious journey to the ultimate city.
About the Author
PETER ACKROYD is the author of Thames; London: The Biography; Albion: The Origins of the English Imagination; Shakespeare; acclaimed biographies of T. S. Eliot, Charles Dickens, William Blake, and Sir Thomas More; several successful novels; and the series Ackroyd’s Brief Lives. He has won the Whitbread Book Award for Biography, the Royal Society of Literature’s William Heinemann Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Guardian Fiction Prize, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the South Bank Award for Literature.
Table of Contents
City from the sea — Origins — Water, water everywhere — Mirror, mirror — The city of St. Mark — The saint comes — Refuge — Against nature — Stones of Venice — Ship of state — "Let it be everlasting" — The chosen people — The prison house — Secrets — Chronicles — Republic of commerce — The merchants of Venice — The endless drama — Wheels within wheels — Empire of trade — The lion city — Cities in collision — A call to arms — Timeless city — Bells and gondolas — Iustitia — Against the Turks — The living city — The body and the building — Learning and language — Colour and light — Pilgrims and tourists — The art of life — Hurrah for Carnival — A divine art — The eternal feminine — What to eat? — Sacred city — Divine and infernal — Of belief — The shadows of history — Decline and fall? — Death in Venice — City of myth — The map unrolls — The huddled family — Moon and night — While the music lasts — A Venetian chronology.
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