Venice: Pure City

Peter Ackroyd, Doubleday/Talese, $40 (416p) ISBN 978-0-385-53152-8
Novelist and biographer Ackroyd (The Canterbury Tales) provides a history of and meditation on the actual and imaginary Venice in a volume as opulent and paradoxical as the city itself. Structured and organized with a fluidity that reflects its many-faceted subject, he launches his tour de force with the basics of Venetian geography, hydrology, and climate before turning to history and architecture. The narrative continues to develop around themes both usual and unexpected such as trade and gossip or subjects such as the city's fabled churches, its love of sexuality, and theater. As it glides along, it gracefully incorporates tidbits about such traditions as the cabins on gondolas and the masks worn during Carnival. How Ackroyd deftly catalogues the overabundance of the city's real and literary tropes and touchstones is itself a kind of tribute to La Serenissima, as Venice is called, and his seductive voice is elegant and elegiac. The resulting book is, like Venice, something rich, labyrinthine and unique that makes itself and its subject both new and necessary. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/23/2010
Release date: 11/01/2010
Hardcover - 416 pages - 978-0-7011-7285-5
Paperback - 512 pages - 978-0-09-942256-3
Open Ebook - 316 pages - 978-0-385-53153-5
Compact Disc - 978-1-4001-4793-9
Compact Disc - 978-1-4001-1793-2
MP3 CD - 978-1-4001-6793-7
Paperback - 403 pages - 978-0-307-47379-0
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