Florence, A Delicate CaseBook - 2002
Offers an evocative travelogue that unlocks the great Italian city's beauty, wonder, and majesty.
David Leavitt brings the wonders and mysteries of Florence alive, illuminating why it is, and always has been, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
The third in the critically-acclaimed Writer and the City Series-in which some of the world's finest novelists reveal the secrets of the cities they know best-Florence is a lively account of expatriate life in the 'city of the lily'.
Why has Florence always drawn so many English and American visitors? (At the turn of the century, the Anglo-American population numbered more than thirty thousand.) Why have men and women fleeing sex scandals traditionally settled here? What is it about Florence that has made it so fascinating-and so repellent-to artists and writers over the years?
Moving fleetly between present and past and exploring characters both real and fictional, Leavitt's narrative limns the history of the foreign colony from its origins in the middle of the nineteenth century until its demise under Mussolini, and considers the appeal of Florence to figures as diverse as Tchaikovsky, E.M. Forster, Ronald Firbank, and Mary McCarthy. Lesser-known episodes in Florentine history-the moving of Michelangelo'sDavid, and the construction of temporary bridges by black American soldiers in the wake of the Second World War-are contrasted with images of Florence today (its vast pizza parlors and tourist culture). Leavitt also examines the city's portrayal in such novels and films as A Room with a View, The Portrait of a Lady andTea with Mussolini.
Readers as well as travelers will enjoy this literary guide to the lives and impressions of the many British and Americans who lived and wrote here. Aside from descriptions of art, light, landscape, and history, Leavitt finds many traces within the literary sources of Florence's active gay culture during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Blackwell North Amer
This account of expatriate life in the 'city of the lily' begins by asking why Florence has always proven to be such a popular destination for suicides, then moves into an analysis of what makes the city, in Henry James's words, such a 'delicate case' for locals and visitors alike.
Moving fleetly between present and past, Leavitt's narrative limns the history of the foreign colony from its origins in the middle of the nineteenth century until its demise under Mussolini, and considers the appeal of Florence to figures as diverge as Tchaikovsky, E. M. Forster, Ronald Firbank, Mary McCarthy, Mrs. Keppel (mistress to King Edward VII) and Henry Labouchere, author of the Labouchere Amendment, under the provisions of which Oscar Wilde was convicted. Lesser-known episodes in Florentine history - the moving of Michelangelo's David, and the construction of temporary bridges by battalions of black American soldiers in the wake of the Second World War are contrasted with images of Florence today (its vast pizza parlours and tourist culture) as well as analyses of the city's portrayal in such novels and films as A Room with a View, The Portrait of a Lady and Tea with Mussolini.
The critically acclaimed author of The Marble Quilt and In Maremma turns his attention to Florence, in an evocative travelogue that unlock the great Italian city's beauty, wonders, and majesty for readers.