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Venice Paperback – 7 Oct 1993


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; 3 edition (7 Oct 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571168973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571168972
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,524 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Here, revised and introduced by the author, is Jan Morris's portrait of La Serenissima, published 50 years ago and still without equal. She cherishes every cranny: the city's 3,000 alleyways, its jails, its waterways and its buildings decaying like 'dukes in threadbare ermine'. She presents its past, its art and its language, which Byron called 'sweet bastard Latin'. A suitably respectful narration with an Italian flourish. --Rachel Redford, The Observer

If you are going to Venice this summer, and even if you are not, Jan Morris's Venice makes excellent listening. Newly revised, it is introduced by the 84-year-old Morris herself, then the dulcet voice of Sebastian Comberti takes over narration. It opens historically but takes in architecture, culture, practicalities (the boats of the fire, police and ambulance services, the rubbish collectors who are slowly creating a whole new island) and the mysteries of death. Morris fell in love with Venice when there during the Second World War, and her accumulation of memories is heartfelt, personal, quirky and enlightening. Perfect for a leisurely approach by Eurostar and night train to Venice, but just as good for whiling away the dull hours commuting to work. --Christina Hardyment, The Times

'I was in my 20s when I wrote this,' says Morris in the introduction to her best known travel book, 'and I like to think that its faults are the heady faults of youth.' What faults? Fifty years on, it is still the best all-round guide to a city that, despite the ever-present hordes of tourists, remains the most magical destination on earth. Listening to this equally magical audio made me long to go back and check out all those less touristy bits that so enthralled young Morris the alley too narrow for Browning to open his umbrella, the crypt allegedly containing Mary Magdalen's finger, the fish market 'laden with sleek wriggling eels, still pugnaciously alive, beautiful little red fish packed in boxes like shampoos, heads upwards . . . soft bulbous octopus furiously injecting ink . . . a multitude of sea matter . . . sliding, sinuous, shimmering, flabby, spongy, crisp, all lying aghast upon their fresh green biers dead, doomed or panting like a grove of brilliant foliage among the tundra of Venetian stone.' Yes, the descriptions do go on a bit, but that s part of the charm. It was written, says Morris, 'in a rush of enthusiasm like the splurge of a love affair'. The enthusiasm is infectious. Venetian history, culture, religion, food she relishes them all, from the glory years between the 12th and 15th centuries when La Serenissima controlled the trade routes between east and west, to the nuns at one of the more fashionable convents claiming their right to supply a mistress for the new papal nuncio, to the notice on the Grand Canal: 'It is forbidden to spit on the swimmers.' Don't go to Venice without it. --Sue Arnold, The Guardian --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Book Description

Now available as a Faber Modern Classic, Venice by Jan Morris is an international bestseller, a beautifully written immersion in Venetian life and a love letter to Italy's most iconic city.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

86 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Howell on 24 Jan 2003
Format: Paperback
I've never been to Venice, something that I intend to put right in a couple of months time. And so I thought I'd better have a look at 'Venice', it being one of the few Morris books that I hadn't read. To call this a masterpiece would be an understatement.
Here we have the story of the life of Venice told in the most engaing way: the history of the place; details of the Venician personality; reflections on great faded glory' the memories of someone who used to call Venice home and - not unlike her work on Wales - some lovely, dreamy thinking about how Venice could, once again, find her proper role and place in the world.
This is not a travel guide or the account of a journey, but something altogether more satisfying. Forget the Lonley Planet guide, start you research here ...
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Booksthatmatter on 7 May 2003
Format: Paperback
Jan Morris's book makes the perfect companion for a trip to Venice, completely counterbalancing the arid information of a standard guide. Morris is discursive, witty, tangential - the book considerably enriched my experience of this fabulous city and was very entertaining. Strongly recommended - even if you aren't in Venice!
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By J. R. Gunsell on 15 Nov 2003
Format: Paperback
... and maybe aren't even going, but wonder why all the fuss about Venice, here's your answer. Reading this book is like inhaling the soul of the place without ever going there - armchair travelling of the highest order.
Nowhere that Morris visits feels like 'just another place' if you carry her writing in your mind - as you will - when you arrive there. This is effortless writing in both senses: for her (seemingly) and for you. Perfect word-painting just flows from her pen: images... stories... legends... history... atmosphere and small curiosities. It's like listening to the perfect dinner-guest who could not patronise you if she tried, unaffectedly recalling in direct, easy language, her own experience of this unparallelled, unique old city.
For someone who has already visited and loves Venice, here is the Ah! factor, in spades. If you have yet to go there, take Morris with you in your head AND the book in your luggage for re-reading.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ms. T. M. Williams on 2 Jun 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This review is based on the Kindle version of this book.

Having only had the pleasure of visiting Venice on a grey, stormy day I am longing for the day when I can return and really explore the well known and not so well known parts of Serenissima. For now, I hoped that this book would keep me going until I am able to return. It is very obvious that the author has a passion for and an extensive knowledge of Venice and sometimes this left me feeling overwhelmed with place names and little understanding of their physical place. There is also an over use of lists and superlatives which can sometimes be a little tedious. However, the emphasis is not on the tourist sites and traps but on Venice as a whole. There are maps, but these are unfortunately too small to be worthwhile on the Kindle. Also, there was a page missing in the afterword, which because it gives a histological timeline, is rendered pretty much useless due to the omission.

I'm not sure where this book fits. It is neither a travel book nor a complete history of Venice and yet, it has renewed and reawakened my desire to return to Venice and now, because I am more educated about the not so well known but equally enigmatic areas of Venice, the visit will be so much more fulfilling.
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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful By hillbank68 TOP 500 REVIEWER on 20 Dec 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book which catches the flavour of Venice and is beautifully written. Jan Morris is one of the most individual and memorable of all travel writers, and this city is one she knows well and loves greatly ; that is evident on every page. The visual descriptions are precise and quirky, the little stories from Venetian myth and legend add character to the book and her knowledge of the history and culture of the place, worn lightly and always enlightening, never intrusive, make this a fine book. Above all she is a marvellous writer.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 April 2000
Format: Paperback
This is not a guide book, but a book about the city of Venice, its history and people. It is one of the most entertaining pieces of non-fiction I have ever read. Even if you never go to Venice (though you should), read this book.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 4 Feb 2001
Format: Paperback
Neither a guide book or a reference book: just a collection of reflections and anecdotes which link together as effortlessly and seamlessly as the canals. Perfect relaxation!
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 11 Dec 2000
Format: Paperback
This is one of the few books I would take to a desert island. It is one of the most evocative books I have ever read - it is a companion to a rainy day or a trip to Venice itself . read it and love it !!
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