Venice Rediscovered

Venice Rediscovered

3.33 (6 ratings by Goodreads)
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What are the origins of the modern passion for Venice? In the two centuries since its political extinction, the city has been transformed into a great modern cultural symbol by the work of prominent intellectual and literary figures such as Ruskin, Proust, Mann, and Henry James. This work seeks to show how American and European outsiders developed an obsession with the idea of a dying city which must be preserved at all costs, and to reveal aspects of the development of modern Western more

Product details

  • Paperback | 231 pages
  • 129.54 x 203.2 x 17.78mm | 340.19g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford Paperbacks
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • 16 pp plates
  • 0192853287
  • 9780192853288

About John Pemble

About the Author John Pemble is a Reader in History at the University of Bristol. Educated at Cambridge, the University of Pennsylvania, and the University of Paris, he has travelled extensively. Pemble's last book, The Mediterranean Passion, won the Wolfson Literary Award for more

Review quote

"Full of fresh and little-known material; it is almost unfailingly interesting and invariably well written."--The New York Times Book Review"Pemble skillfully describes the ways in which successive generations of historians reinterpreted Venice based on their own contemporary agendas."--The Washington Post Book World"Accessible and exciting, with rich rewards for sophisticated readers."--Publishers Weeklyshow more

Review Text

Essays in intellectual and literary history explain how Venice came to be regarded as a living museum of Western culture. Rather than a guidebook, Pemble (History/Univ. of Bristol, England; The Mediterranean Passion, not reviewed) has written an academic but fairly accessible text for students and scholars who wish to learn more about Western intellectual history. Eschewing such abstractions as "the decline of liberalism," the author instead offers learned anecdotes about Venice and links them to broader changes in Western history. Like many good historians, Pemble is a strong storyteller, and his tales convey much of value about such prominent intellectual and literary figures as John Ruskin, Leopold Ranke, John Addington Symonds, and Henry James. He is even better when profiling the less famous but more colorful men and women of the English-speaking expatriate community. The author chronicles the appeal Venice's mold and watery stagnation exerted for the Romantic imagination; its impact on early-19th-century British architects, who returned from the city to construct massive buildings in the Venetian-Gothic style (St. Pancras Station, etc.); and the way in which its extensive, carefully preserved historical archives became the basis for a newly scientific approach to history. A routine stopping-off point on the steamship route to India, Venice was portrayed in 19th-century literature as a half-oriental city, the site of secret vices and home to mysterious recluses. By the 20th century, it was hailed as a monument to Western culture, and Pemble ends with an account of the international conservation effort mounted by scholars, travelers, and expatriates to preserve the city, a campaign which continues today. Not always easy reading, but a nicely anecdotal introduction to Western cultural history as encapsulated in a single, magical city. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

Rating details

6 ratings
3.33 out of 5 stars
5 17% (1)
4 33% (2)
3 17% (1)
2 33% (2)
1 0% (0)
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