Venice Paperback – 7 Oct 1993
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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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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 ...
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.
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.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Loved it. This love story of Venice differs from the travel books of Chatwin, Fermor and Theroux by placing the subject at the heart of the story rather than the author. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Johnny Cymru
An excellent discursive ramble about every aspect of Venice and its environs. It even includes views on Venice's future development.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is just one of the greatest loveliest books of all time. I have lived long enough to have read over ten thousand books in my time, and I would always put this one in the top... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mr. G. Lawrence
Absolutely boring, too much details, way too much melancoly..... uselessPublished 4 months ago by Csutak
Arrived on time and in excellent condition as advertised. Still reading it and enjoying the depth of knowledge of this city that I have visited many times and which still holds a... Read morePublished 4 months ago by M. Lawrance
One of Morris' greatest books. Full of history, incident and character — in exquisite prose.Published 6 months ago by MR LINKS
Fantastic book, superb writing, seldom have I read a book so avidly from beginning to end. Hats off to the author. Read morePublished 8 months ago by tigger