Over many centuries Venice has continued to enthral & capture the imagination like no other city. Countless writers & artists have variously been charmed, inspired, unsettled & sometimes exasperated by its inimitable & contradictory blend of timelessness & transience. It is this inscrutable enigma that intrigues David Whittaker in Mindful of Venice. Taking a leisurely wander through the labyrinthine streets (accompanied by the ghost of Thomas Coryate), we learn about the astonishingly lifelike horses of San Marco, the Jewish Ghetto, the gondola, the Rialto Bridge, the notorious courtesans, the rise & fall & rise of the Campanile, the Venetian dialect, & the curious, often alarming, deaths in Venice of notable visitors to the city, including Wagner, Diaghilev, Baron Corvo & Ezra Pound. Interspersed throughout with gnomic musings, the book is also richly illustrated, mainly with David’s evocative photographs.
A notable bonus, as a coda, is the striking essay by the eminent Italian author Italo Calvino: ‘Venice: archetype & utopia of the aquatic city’ – translated into English here for the first time by Martin McLaughlin (Emeritus Professor of Italian at the University of Oxford).
Mindful of Venice emphasizes the incomparable experience of this floating city & will stimulate the eye & mind of all those who, like the author, have succumbed to the spell of this miraculous place.
Paperback, 128 pages, colour throughout – £14.99 + pp (£2 inland). I do overseas orders but you need to contact me about postage rates. Payment by sterling cheque (to my name), PayPal or bank transfer. Further details: firstname.lastname@example.org or 07772769363
To pick this book up and flip through its pages is to need to buy it, due to it being so handsomely produced and illustrated … no matter how much you think you know about Venice you'll almost certainly learn something here, despite it working as a sterling introduction too, and have the stuff you know reinforced and refreshed.
Jeff Cotton www.fictionalcities.co.uk
It is pure delight … a wonderful book.
Professore Shaul Bassi – Università Ca’ Foscari Venice
A delightful read, with lovely photos of La Serenissima … a charming book beautifully put together.
Dr Georgina Paul – St Hilda’s College, University of Oxford
The book is a fine artifact in itself, almost an objet d’art, & is full of curious & interesting facts. The photos are splendid.
Professor Ronnie Ferguson – University of St Andrews
Thomas Coryate (1577?-1617), who hailed from Odcombe in Somerset, was one of the more eccentric and fascinating figures of the court of James I and Henry, Prince of Wales (where he acted as wit and unofficial buffoon). In 1608 he travelled all over Europe, mainly on foot (hence his nickname ‘the Odcombian Leg-stretcher’). This resulted in his celebrated book Coryats Crudities, published in 1611, which laid the foundations for the Grand Tour. The highlight of his trip was the six weeks he spent in Venice. An acutely perceptive observer, writing with infectious enthusiasm, Coryate’s lively account includes art, architecture, economy, politics, history, fashion, food and drink, gondolas, churches, music, theatre, executions, courtesans, the Jewish Ghetto, and the bustling activities of Piazza San Marco. He paints an intriguing picture of life in one of the world’s most extraordinary and mysterious cities. This was the first detailed description of Venice written by an Englishman.
Most Glorious & Peerless Venice re-presents that section of the Crudities (out-of-print and almost forgotten for more than a century) for the modern reader. Attractively illustrated throughout with photographs by David Whittaker and various historical engravings, as well as notes, a glossary and a sketch of Coryate’s remarkable life. The book is a compelling read for anyone interested in early travel writing – as a unique eyewitness narrative it has never been surpassed – it also demonstrates how surprisingly little Venice has changed in more than 400 years.
Paperback, 128 pages, illustrated – £10 + pp
Until now Coryate’s trip to Venice has only been accessible in the two complete editions of the Crudities, the Jacobean original and Maclehose’s two-volume reissue from 1905. David Whittaker’s presentation of the footloose Odcombian’s Venetian rhapsody, generously illustrated and with modern spelling, is essential reading for those following him to the peerless city.
Jonathan Keates – Times Literary Supplement
A very nice edition. Coryate is fascinating and full of fun. Jan Morris – Author
David Whittaker offers a rich selection of Coryate’s text, all richly illustrated and with an excellent introduction. This beautiful book is a bargain.
The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust
Excellently done. Professor Jonathan Bate – University of Oxford
A very attractive book. Sir Stanley Wells – Emeritus Professor Birmingham University
What a delightful book. I’ve always loved Coryate, and am enchanted to have this superbly illustrated account of his stay in Venice.
Viscount John Julius Norwich – Author
It is a precious book and deserves to be known and read.
Professore Shaul Bassi - Università Ca’ Foscari Venice
A wonderful book. Alberto Toso Fei – Author
The book looks splendid and is a great reminder of my favourite city. I do hope it makes Coryate popular, as he is such a wonderfully odd figure full of insights, that he deserves to be much better known.
Professor Andrew Hadfield – University of Sussex
So, praise to David Whittaker who has collected the Venetian section of the Crudities into one handsome paperback and in the process made the language more comprehensible, without losing its quirk or charm.
All good eccentric stuff, and genuinely and fragrantly evocative of its time.
Jeff Cotton (www.fictionalcities.co.uk)