A Cultural and Literary History


Martin Garrett

ISBN : 978-190-2669-29-8

History Cities of the Imagination Other Distributed Titles

April 2001

256 pages, 5.25″ x 8″

For sale in Hong Kong SAR and Macao SAR only

  • HK$175.00

Established on its many islands by Roman refugees, the centre of a maritime empire, a republic for a thousand years, Venice has always been distinct from the rest of Italy, and from anywhere else. Its unique light and hundreds of canals, palaces and churches: from mosaic-encrusted Byzantine to harmonious Palladian, have attracted travellers, painters and writers as diverse as Turner, Proust and Pound. Historically celebrated for its wealth and independence of mind, the city has also become a byword for beauty and decadence.

Martin Garrett explores the extraordinary history, art and architecture of Venice and the islands of the lagoon. Looking at the legacy of the city’s Jewish, Greek, Slav and Armenian minorities, he recalls the exploits of such legendary figures as Casanova and Byron. He also assesses the successful struggle to preserve the city in the face of flood and corruption, and its important modern role as host of the Biennale and film festival.

The City of Pomp and Ritual: the Grand Canal, palazzi, royal receptions; life on the water, gondolas and bridges; pageantry and the powerless Doge.

The City of Drama: commedia dell’arte, opera, carnival; from Monteverdi to Dario Fo; Death in Venice and the dream of decadence; the film festival.

The City of Literature and Art: the inspiration for Henry James, Thomas Mann and John Ruskin; the imaginary home of Shylock and Volpone; futurism, fascism and Marinetti.

Martin Garrett is the author of literary companions to Italy and Greece, and has written or edited a number of works on Renaissance and nineteenth-century writers, including Sidney, Byron and the Brownings.

‘As well as a useful history . . . . Garrett introduces such extraordinary characters as the sonnet-writing courtesan Veronica Franco, Pietro Aretino the satirist, and a range of rascally Doges.’ —The Independent on Sunday