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Venice [Paperback]

Jan Morris
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
RRP: 9.99
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Book Description

7 Oct 1993

The classic evocation of Venice, acclaimed as one of the finest books ever written about the city.

'Entertaining, ironical, witty, high spirited and appreciative . . . Both melancholy and gay and worldly, I think of it now as among the best books on Venice; indeed as the best modern book about a city that I have ever read.' Geoffrey Grigson

'One of the most diverse and diverting books ever written about Venice . . . A taut and personal report, wholly absorbing, quickened by vivid prose and astringent humour.' Sunday Times

'For those of whom Venice is a memory, a treat in store, or even a dream, the broad canvas of this book covering a thousand years in the life of one of the most complex, original, and active communities the world has ever seen, is a work of lasting interest.' Guardian


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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Revised 3rd Edition edition (7 Oct 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571168973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571168972
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 11,569 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.

From the Back Cover

The classic evocation of Venice, acclaimed as one of the finest books ever written about the city.

'Entertaining, ironical, witty, high spirited and appreciative....Both melancholy and gay and worldly, I think of it now as among the best books on Venice; indeed as the best modern book about a city that I have ever read.' -Geoffrey Grigson

'One of the most diverse and diverting books ever written about Venice...A taut and personal report, wholly absorbing, quickened by vivid prose and astringent humour.' -Sunday Times

'For those to whom Venice is a memory, a treat in store, or even a dream, the broad canvas of this book covering a thousand years in the life of one of the most complex, original, and active communities the world has ever seen, is a work of lasting interest.' Guardian

'Venice is not a guide book exactly, although no visitor to Venice should omit it from his satchel. It is a highly intelligent portrait of an eccentric city, written in powerful prose and enlivened by many curious mosaics of information...A beautiful book to read and possess.' -Harold Nicolson, Observer


Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
83 of 86 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still Stunning After All These Years! 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
4.0 out of 5 stars A Different Dimension to Travel Writing 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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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you haven�t been to Venice... 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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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Encapsulates the spirit of Venice 25 April 2000
By A Customer
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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40 of 44 people found the following review helpful
By Mr. Ian A. Macfarlane TOP 100 REVIEWER
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather flowery but interesting 2 Aug 2011
Format:Paperback|Amazon Verified Purchase
I first read this many years ago before my first proper trip to Venice - the first time I was en route elsewhere and our train stayed in the Venice station for 10 mins).

I found it interesting but got a bit irritated by the flowery passages and the personal projections about the Venetians. However, a lot of other books are very historical and often a bit dry - even Francesco's Venice, which does make up for that with stunning pictures.

This book was also written in 1960 and despite revisions is really about the place 51 years ago!

To sum up, I enjoyed it in full first time round. Second time around and now having been on a proper trip to Venice, I find it rather irritating but nice to dip into.

If you haven't been to Venice, the place is definitely 5-star and I'm really looking forward to my second proper visit in a week's time!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, personal and full of information 2 Jun 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Amazon 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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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless classic 4 Feb 2001
By A Customer
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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The meaning of somewhere
Jan Morris has a unique voice, with just the right amount of hard history, anecdote and present self. She really gets into the stones of the places she visits.
Published 1 month ago by P. Martland
5.0 out of 5 stars I love it
A friend recommended another book on Venice (we're going next week) but said she'd been reading it for a year! Read more
Published 1 month ago by broodyjuice
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather showing its age....
I first read, and hugely enjoyed, this book many years ago and bought the present version, as it was trumpeted as a 'new and revised edition'. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Pasquino
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book on Venice - by far.
Still a fresh and compelling read. Could probably be doing with another re-write perhaps to include transport developments notably those between Marco Polo airport and Piazzale... Read more
Published 8 months ago by FP Lennon
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
The old ones are often the best! This guidebook may have been written a while ago but, with the updates, makes
a great addition to more modern guidebooks.
Published 10 months ago by J. G. Clegg
4.0 out of 5 stars A poem to venice
Thuis is not a travel book but a poem extolling the beauty and uniqueness of Venice. It is well worth reading but suggest you also have another mopre down to earth guide to help... Read more
Published 10 months ago by cynth
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read
An excellent read which is up to date in every important respect. She some how manages to capture the very essence of the place.
Published 10 months ago by Angela
5.0 out of 5 stars The classic book of the 20th century on Venice and its history
I digested this wonderfully written and brilliantly researched book on a recent trip to Venice. Indeed, reading Jan Morris's evocative passages on Venetian history, legends and... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Neil Kernohan
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written
If you have seen pictures of Venice and thought you might like to go, read Jan Morris 'Venice' and there will be a hundred reasons why you absolutely must go. Read more
Published 12 months ago by mrsT
5.0 out of 5 stars A very personal account of the divinest city on earth.
This is not for those who want 'history'. Better histories of Venice exist - Norwich, for example, even Ackroyd - but for those who want to 'taste, touch and see' Venice this is... Read more
Published 12 months ago by Mr Collins
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