Refractions: Writers and Places

Robert Packard, Author Carroll & Graf Publishers $17.95 (170p) ISBN 978-0-88184-576-1
Mark Twain debunked fabled, icon-ridden Venice; Dostoyevski, living in Florence for a year, called it a purgatory devoid of inspiration, worse than Siberian exile; Byron transformed the Portuguese hill town of Sintra into a ``glorious Eden'' that enthralled Childe Harold on his pilgrimage. How writers have reinvented cities or locales in their own image is the theme of these eight adventurous, engaging /since i've changed one usage in this drop, let this one run/I can see that engaging is now replacing fascinating as the most used cliche/I'll have to be more essays. Packard, professor of English at Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey, contrasts Homer's Troy--illustrious, worldly locale--with Chaucer's Troy, site of amorous and chivalric exploits, a mirror of medieval England. In Combray, modeled on a French provincial town, Proust created a place ``rooted in memory that can defy the vicissitudes of time.'' Packard's sojourns are full of the pleasures of discovery, literary and geographic. (June)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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