In 1947 a young american woman named Eleanor Clark went to Rome on a Guggenheim fellowship to write a novel. But Rome had its way with her, the novel was abandoned, and what followed was not a novel but a series of sketches of Roman life, most written between 1948 and 1951. This new edition of her now classic book includes an evocative foreword by the eminent translator William Weaver, who was a close friend of the author's and often wandered the city with her during the years she was working on Rome and a Villa.
Once in Rome, the foreign writer or artist, over the course of weeks, months, or years, begins to lose ambition, to lose a sense of urgency, to lose even a sense of self. What once seemed all-consuming is swallowed up by Rome&$8212;by the pace of life; by the fatalism of the Roman people, to whom everything and nothing matters; by the sheer historic weight and scale of the place. Rome is life itself—messy, random, anarchic, comical one moment, tragic the next, and above all, seductive.
Clark pays special attention to Roman art and architecture. In the book's midsection she looks at Hadrian's Villa—an enormous, unfinished palace—as a metaphor for the city itself: decaying, imperial, shabby, but capable of inducing an overwhelming dreaminess in its visitors. The book's final chapter, written for an updated edition in 1974, is a lovely portrait of the so-called Protestant cemetery where Keats, Shelley, and other foreign notables are buried.
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Eleanor Clark (1913–1996) was also the author of two other works of nonfiction, Rome and a Villa and Eyes, Etc., and the novels The Bitter Box, Baldur's Gate, and Camping Out. She was married to Robert Penn Warren.Review:
“These essays gather up Rome and hold it before us, bristling and dense and dreamlike, with every scene drenched in the sound of fountains, of leaping and falling water.” (The New Yorker)
“Perhaps the finest book ever to be written about a city.” (New York Times)
“Witty without being flippant, unhurried without being slow, informative without being pedantic, contemplative and poetic without heaviness or affectation, Eleanor Clark’s book about Rome is, of course, a book about human destiny. To be as good as it is, it could not simply be about the buildings of Rome. (New York Herald Tribune)
“Like Rome itself, Rome and a Villa is sensual, demanding attention, patience, and pause. Reading the book is a meditative experience. . . The only thing to do in the face of this overwhelming emotional onslaught is to give in to it, as Clark did.” (New Criterion)
“A brilliant piece of traveler’s impressionism, written with verbal polish.” (Time magazine)
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Book Description HarpPeren, 1992. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0060974893
Book Description Perennial, 1992. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0060974893
Book Description HarpPeren, 1992. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 60974893