Storied Cities: Literary Imaginings of Florence, Venice, and Rome

Synopsis

The fabled cities of Italy--Florence, Venice, and Rome--have each acquired a distinctive tradition of literary representation involving characteristic, recurrent motifs and symbolic signatures. A wealth of writing on each is examined in fiction and poetry of nineteenth and twentieth-century authors. The analysis points to Florence frequently being depicted in terms of binary oppositions, such as past versus present, stasis versus movement, and light versus darkness. Venetian narratives commonly are infused with motifs relating to dream and unreality, obsession, voyeurism, isolation, melancholia, and death. History, combined with the motif of change, is a controlling metaphor for Roman fiction and poetry. In a wider theoretical framework, this writing is analyzed for the light shed on the issue of the significance of setting in literature.