Florence’s world-famous Renaissance is brought to life in this anthology through the eyes of its most illustrious chroniclers. Beginning with Dante’s vision of Inferno, teeming with his Florentine enemies, to the artist Cellini’s swashbuckling adventures in High Renaissance Italy, and including the pioneering writings of Boccaccio, Ficino, Guicciardini and Vasari, this selection shows that in literature, as in art, Florence was a trailblazer.
The city’s long tradition of mesmerizing foreigners is celebrated in selections from Tobias Smollet, Henry James, D.H. Lawrence and Stendhal (whose rapturous impressions gave name to ‘Stendhal syndrome’), while indigenous writers such as Curzio Malaparte and Vasco Pratolini paint a far grittier portrait of Florence under the looming cloud of Fascism and World War II. Salman Rushdie’s dazzling novel The Enchantress of Florence takes inspiration from the city’s gilded Renaissance past, while Mary McCarthy’s masterful travelogue captures a bustling 20th century market city. George Eliot, Rainer Maria Rilke, Iris Origo and Penelope Fitzgerald are among the other brilliant writers whose stories illuminate the many faces of this fascinating city.
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