Henry James wrote of Venice: 'You desire to embrace it, to caress it, to possess it . . .' whereas Mark Twain found St Mark's 'so ugly . . . propped on its long row of thick-legged columns, its back knobbed with domes, it seems like a vast, warty bug taking a meditative walk'.
Reactions to Venice have been, throughout the ages, astonishingly different. John Julius Norwich has put together a dazzling anthology, drawing on the writings of Byron, Goethe, Wagner, Casanova, Jan Morris, Robert Browning and Horace Walpole, among many others.
The pieces range from the sixth century, when the early lagoon-dwellers lived 'like sea-birds in huts, built on heaps of osiers' to the exquisite city of eighteenth-century revellers and nineteenth-century art lovers. The city's many diferent guises are shown as both its citizens and visitors saw them.
This wonderful volume from the Traveller's Reader series also contains maps, engravings and notes on history, art, architecture and everyday city life.
A brilliant historical anthology . . . which I read from cover to cover, relishing the author's witty selection of writings. - Spectator
Another excellent volume in the Traveller's Reader series. - Times
John Julius Norwich was born in 1929. He was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, at Eton, at the University of Strasbourg and, after a spell of National Service in the Navy, at New College, Oxford, where he took a degree in French and Russian. In 1952 he joined the Foreign Service, where he remained for twelve years, serving at the embassies in Belgrade and Beirut and with the British Delegation to the Disarmament Conference at Geneva. In 1964 he resigned from the service in order to write.