The Lion of Cortona : Volume I: Exiles
Cortona, a small city in Tuscany, is surrounded by high stone walls and retains to this day its medieval spirit. Charles Van Doren, writer, editor, and academic, made it his second home for more than twenty-five years. As a man with a passionate need to "know," he studied everything he could find about the history of Cortona. And that history is so much a part of The Lion of Cortona, you almost don't notice how much you are learning. Van Doren sweeps us into his richly imagined evocation of life in thirteenth-century Tuscany. As events unfold with ease and authenticity. It is intriguing to watch the book's bold and interesting characters develop, intermingle, and reckon with the consequences of their actions. Santa Margherita, who lived and cared for the people of Cortona in the thirteenth century, appears in the story as she actually was, at least from all available accounts. The same can be said of the Casali family; the Palazzo Casali still stands in one of the two main piazzas of the city. Thomas Aquinas, the philosopher, also has a role in the story, as does the great and powerful Visconti family. Nino, one of the imaginary heroes, meets Aquinas in France. Benno, the main hero, joins the army of the archbishop of Milan, Ottone Visconti. Nina, Nino's sister, loves Benno. But because of his humble origins, Benno must prove himself before he can claim her. Many events in the novel actually happened. The first is the betrayal and invasion of Cortona by the bishop of Arezzo. A traitor opened the gate at the bottom of the city for his army and the chaos that ensued. Nino, Nina, and Benno were hardly more than children when that happened. Another true event is the Battle of Pizzighettoni, at which Benno distinguished himself as a leader and hero. Surrounding these two events, much of the story is entirely the creation of a man's imagination, inspired by the city he loved.
- Paperback | 262 pages
- 133 x 203 x 14mm | 277g
- 30 Jun 2013
- Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
About Charles Van Doren
Charles Van Doren, an American writer, editor, and academic, grew up in New York and Connecticut. He taught English at Columbia University and the University of Connecticut. He was an editor of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and the author of several books, including A History of Knowledge, The Joy of Reading, and, with Mortimer Adler, How to Read a Book: The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. Van Doren and his wife, Gerry, live in Cornwall, Connecticut.