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Venice Paperback – 7 Oct 1993

4.4 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (7 Oct. 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571168973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571168972
  • Product Dimensions: 12.5 x 2 x 20 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is surely required reading for anyone with more than just a passing interest in Venice. Although it was first published in 1960, the author has admitted that she has found it almost impossible to update it, and, as others have commented, many of her observations could have been written yesterday. For all that Jan Morrris's famed rococo style of writing makes it seem at times that no noun, however humble, lacks an adjective, no verb an adverb - and if, admittedly, her flights of fancy do sometimes run away with her, particularly in her fanciful descriptions of The Venetian - she has a special way with language that marries the lofty and sweeping with the detailed and precise. The literary aperçus, the width and depth of the social, historical and geographical commentaries, and the clarity of the picture of Venice they conjure up, make this a feel-good book par excellence. If you hanker after classic grammar and punctuation, it is an exemplary guide to the use of the colon and semi-colon; though, having said that, occasional archaic turns of phrase ("Marvellously evocative is a winter funeral in Venice") do sound rather Yoda-like to modern ears. Nevertheless, I think you can be confident that if you relax into the style, it will be as if you are relaxing with a glass of port nearby into a comfy old leather armchair in a wood-panelled room. If you like language, you may be interested to find that 'Rialto' derives from 'Rivo Alto', the name of an ancient waterway that flowed through the original islets and mud flats of the lagoon, or that over the years the name for a street near the palace of the Papal Legates - presumably originally the Salizzada dei Legati, though we are not told specifically - has become corrupted to the Salizzada delle Gatte, or the Paved Alley of the Female Cats.Read more ›
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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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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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