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

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

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

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.

Excerpt

The view presented here of the literature that has grown up around the three great, storied cities of Florence, Venice, and Rome is manifestly incomplete. It has not been my intention to undertake an exhaustive survey of that literature, which has by now grown so vast as to render any such aim quixotic. There exist, without a doubt, countless literary works set in one or another of the three cities that have not come to my attention. of others I have made little or no mention owing to limitations on available space, to say nothing of the reader's patience. My discussions of a whole catalogue of relevant and fascinating examples--Henry James The Last of the Valerii, Daisy Miller, and The Wings of the Dove, John Cheever's Italian stories, Susan Hill The Bird of Night, to name a few--have had either to be severely telescoped or simply eliminated. the conclusions I draw from the works I do discuss should, therefore, be tested and extended by a reading of these and other such additional texts.

I would like to thank the friends and colleagues from whose encouragement and counsel I have profited. Paul Fussell and Anthony Nuttall read preliminary drafts of my general introduction and made useful suggestions, some of which I have incorporated. Alwyn Berland and Ronald Granofsky read and commented on the entire manuscript; I am substantially indebted to their generous expenditure of time and their critical acumen. My daughter, Silvia Ross, contributed expert help with translations from Italian sources. Above all, I owe thanks to Lorraine York, who has cheerfully followed the emergence of this text through all its tortuous permutations, providing unfailing encouragement and criticism. Needless to say, responsibility for any inadequacies to be found in what follows remains squarely on my own shoulders.

The completion of the book was facilitated by a generous grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Costs for permission to quote copyright material have been defrayed by a grant from the Arts Research Board of McMaster University. My examination of the unpublished manuscripts of L. P. Hartley was made especially pleasant by the helpfulness of the staff of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester. I am indebted to the Bodleian Library and the Balliol College Library of Oxford for access to material relating to Robert Browning and Arthur Hugh Clough, and to the librarian of the Keats-Shelley House in Rome for access to material on . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.