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"Ah," he sighed, "if it had not been for that crack I should be in the opera the battle of Solferino, and did not appear, they call him "craint-plomb. What makes the novel so deeply satisfying, though, is how Tolstoy balances the story of Anna's passion with a second semiautobiographical story of Levin's. torrents, which make for exquisite scenery' Nelson held similar views. 'In the time of Ajaccio and the English', Piazza Magazine, (November. MAPA DE DESPLAZAMIENTO CINEMA 4D TORRENT Builds of Orion of Splashtop was attackers to compromise servers running the. Configure selectors and these abilities. Thank you, I.

This novella tells the story of Athena and Dexter, a long married couple with a severely handicapped child whose predictable lives are stirred if not quite shaken when Dexter runs into an old friend, Elizabeth, who introduces three charming, if chaotic hangers-on into their lives.

Here is everything you could want in a novel about ancient Rome: warfare and spectacle, scandal and intrigue and still more intrigue. It is soap opera on an epic scale, dramatizing the fall of Roman republican ideals. Barry Hannah can make readers laugh about the grimmest subject while never for a second losing sight of the essential horror.

In this story collection, the Mississippi writer creates a cast of scarred, hyperkinetic characters—including a Confederate soldier recalling the tragedy and glory of war to a contemporary man obsessed with his estranged wife—who are stumbling toward illumination. Great chess players used to test their skills by playing several matches at once.

James examines one of his signature themes—the terrible vulnerability of love to betrayal—in this vertiginous, psychologically acute work. TM 4 RPri 6. Lawrence This sexually ambiguous, daring archaeologist fascinates us for the same reason we still read The Iliad: our need for stirring examples of grace under pressure.

Henrik, a nobleman of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and Konrad, a humble man with ambition, became best friends in military school. Then, one night, their relationship ruptured. Forty-one years pass until they meet again before the embers of a fading fire, where they probe their relationship and their lives. Truth, trust, and hope serve as plot and protagonist in this often comic, philosophical novel that anticipated postmodernism by a century.

Many sagas novels have been written about the Civil War and its aftermath. This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of love and war creates haunting scenes and thrilling portraits of remarkably vivid characters.

Through the white-shouldered, irresistible Scarlett and the flashy, contemptuous Rhett, Mitchell not only conveyed a timeless story of survival under the harshest of circumstances, she also created two of the most famous lovers in the English-speaking world since Romeo and Juliet. The Third Policeman is that rare and lovely thing—a truly hallucinatory novel, shot through with fierce logic and intellectual rigor. It is a lyrical, amoral, funny nightmare: the most disciplined and disturbing product of an always interesting writer.

His sins grow with him, making a logical progression from book theft to burglary and murder—all this against a heightened version of poor, rural Ireland: a setting layered with absurd but weirdly recognizable detail. He then stumbles into a potentially fatal alternative reality: a haunting, teasing Irish countryside of parlors and winding roads from which it seems impossible to return.

And there is always the dark humor that both excuses and condemns us. His imprisonment and threatened execution seem even more troubling because they are nonsensical, perhaps even kind. Slowly it becomes clear that, among other things, this novel is about hell—a much-deserved, amusing, irrational, and entirely inescapable hell.

Beyond this, The Third Policeman is genuinely indescribable: a book that holds you like a lovely and accusing dream. Which will be the truth. ALK 8 AO 2. The Nobel Prize—winning master of menacing understatement subtly links exfoliating, abstract power struggles with banal domestic situations in two of his finest plays. The interrogation and abduction of a helpless and perhaps guiltless tenant makes The Birthday Party simultaneously celebrated as an ironic mockery of the phenomena of survival and continuity.

The result is opaque, disturbing, enthralling drama. The author uses a stream of consciousness technique to describe the fraught experiences and often choked-off feelings of a Spanish shopkeeper during the s and s as her nation becomes gripped by civil war and fascism. The play has a kind of baroque richness to both plot and language as Antony and Cleopatra delight in seclusion while the Roman forces opposing them, led by the sober and ambitious Octavius Caesar, close in on the lovers.

Cornered, the emperor and queen bring the play to a suicidal climax that exquisitely fuses sexual pleasure and death. The novel unspools thirty years of relationships, illuminating small town life in Maine and the pain, panic and yearning of its people. Serialized during wartime, this epic novel chronicles the decline of the Osaka family and the transformation of traditional Japanese society.

As their fortunes wither, elder sisters Tsuruko and Sachiko try to preserve the family name and marry off the talented, sensitive Yukiko. Tanizaki uses detailed descriptions of Japanese traditions, such as the tea ceremony, to underscore their fleetingness in an era of rapid modernization.

The desperate alcoholism of Gervaise Lantier and her husband held a mirror to the shocking moral condition of the urban poor. Nana is a low-born courtesan who succeeds among the French elite. Zola meant his heroine to represent the corruption of the Second Empire under the twin stresses of hedonism and capitalism. But like some uncontrollable genie uncorked from a bottle, she becomes the greatest femme fatale since Helen of Troy. The most explicit of the classic nineteenth-century novels, Nana exists in the vital midpoint between Anna Karenina and Valley of the Dolls.

Though their origins are vague—Aesop may have been born a slave in Asia Minor in b. Its core narrative relates the clashes between two groups of royal Indian cousins—one descended from gods, the other from demons. War, disguises, asceticism, drunken brawls, and the god Dharma as a dog swirl through this magical panorama of ancient India, which also includes the famous sermon Bhagavadgita, the Hindu equivalent to the New Testament.

In The American Dream he lambasts that concept in a one-act farce featuring an over-the-top dysfunctional family and a murder. In The Zoo Story, a psychotic loner cannily provokes a complacent bourgeois into killing him. A profound story of Christian faith constructed of the thoughts, half-thoughts, jottings, and observations, the joys and disappointments, of a priest in provincial France.

The protagonist suffers through the novel—he is a martyr to a dark, often wicked world. But as he declines, the grace he receives builds. One of the great critiques of Victorian society and morality, this autobiographical novel charts the Pontifex family over several generations. In conversations with a chance acquaintance, a once-successful Paris lawyer recounts his fall into psychological self-destruction after ignoring a woman drowning in the Seine.

Ultimately, this existential antihero persuades himself that all good works are motivated by self-interest, all virtue merely a ploy for success or popularity. With no hope of redemption, he descends into debauchery and profligacy, impatient for the relative simplicity of death.

Dermout was sixty-seven years old when she debuted with this semiautobiographical novel about a Dutch woman named Felicia raising her son in the Spice Islands of Indonesia. Her love of life and nature is challenged by violence and murder that bring sadness and summon the courage of resilience. Myshkin a scarcely disguised self-portrait of the author tries again and again to help the people he encounters, only to have his efforts mocked or misunderstood. On the surface a love story, the novel is a contemplation of goodness in the world, and while its conclusions are dark, the portrait of this simple, good man endures.

LShriv 3 BU 6. His stories are shot through with brutal violence and alcohol, characters whoalternate between sanctity and transgression, and tough moral choices. Familial duty has seldom been so sadly rendered, and Eliot drew much from her own childhood in creating Maggie Tulliver and her self-righteous brother Tom. Passionate Maggie gives up her lover out of propriety and deference to Tom, but the character was thought so wicked that many nineteenth-century girls were forbidden to read this book.

Despite having lived with a married man herself, Eliot dealt Maggie a harsh fate. What would you do if the man who promised you love, children, and a throne, after convincing you to slay your brother and exile yourself from your home, decided to marry a richer woman instead? That she is not punished for this deed is a stunning conclusion to this riveting play.

The title poem is considered the signature poem of the Beat generation. What can be seen as a manifesto against the conformist society of America in the s can also be read as a love poem for the promising idea of America. In a fleabag Scottish motel, divorced and depressed, Jock McLeish once again seeks consolation and strength through massive doses of alcohol and sadomasochistic sexual fantasies some starring a woman named Janine. Through frank, complex language Gray takes us inside the addled mind of a powerless man seeking to impose some control over his life.

In the first chapter Michael Henchard sells his wife and child at a country fair. When he meets his forsaken wife Susan and daughter Elizabeth-Jane years later, he is no longer a drunken hay-trusser but mayor of his town. Henchard has improved his position in life but not his disposition, and this tragedy of misplaced pride, torturous guilt, and immense bitterness is vintage Hardy.

Nick Guest is a young gay man desperate for love, the son of a modest antiques dealer who wants to climb the social ladder. The original desperate housewife, pampered Nora Helmer commits forgery for the money she needs to take her sick husband on a lifesaving trip. When her husband discovers her deceit, he is appalled. A brilliant literary colorist, adept with rich jewel tones, earthy pigments, and deep chiaroscuro alike, Mann recalls the Dutch Masters in his painterly command of bourgeois interiors and intimate domestic scenes.

In equally lucid detail, often with tongue in cheek, he probes the psychological depths of his characters as they follow the arc from Enlightenment vigor to Romantic decadence in this sprawling family saga bristling with comedy and pathos. Mann probes the complex tensions between aesthetics and morality, culture and politics, in his trademark dense, precise, endlessly qualified prose.

JB 7 RPri 2. Tartuffe, for example, the Christian hypocrite who attempts to seduce a young virgin, inhabits the same plane of immortality as Falstaff or Don Quixote. The first miracle: A novel built from a strictly limited construction—the description of one single moment in a Paris apartment building—blossoms into an encyclopedia of stories and life spanning centuries, the globe, the history of literature. The second miracle: A moving, humane novel composed of implausible, even impossible parts.

Published in , Life is infinitely entertaining, but it also can change how you see your surroundings; the wall between novel and world leaks. If Perec can imagine four paintings and their histories reproduced inside yet another painting, and the wallpaper against which that work hangs, and the life of the man who selected the wallpaper, then suddenly the world outside the book more proudly displays its own wondrous plumage, imagined by some creator even more ingenious than Perec.

Powers Joe Hackett wanted to be a saint. Her peculiar genius is to make these unpromising creatures the centerpieces of her work. PCam 4 CS 5. KHarr 2 AWald 7. Henry thus construed is a great national hero. But the play actually subverts, or at least compromises, such a reading. We see Henry collude with the church to prosecute a vicious campaign for nationalistic, rather than necessary, reasons.

The brave king broods on the burdens of kingship and the righteousness of his cause, but then casually orders the slaughter of French prisoners. The epilogue looks forward to the reign of Henry VI, who lost all that Henry V gained and more, as if to question the worth of all this killing. Othello centers on the black general of the Venetian army and his white wife, Desdemona, daughter of a Venetian senator. A brave and successful warrior essential to the security of Venice, Othello is extremely susceptible to jealousy, a weakness exploited by the villain Iago, whom Othello passes over for a lieutenancy in favor of another.

Young John Hawkins was told to beware a man with one leg. But after discovering a treasure map, he acquires a ship and hires—you guessed it—one-legged Long John Silver to cook for his ship and hire the crew, a band of villainous pirates. In beautiful, perceptive prose suggestive of its subject, this novel brings readers inside the conflicted mind and soul of Henry James.

Set between and , when a mid-career James was reassessing his life, the novel flows with memories of his youth and accomplished family members. What emerges is the portrait of a man determined to avoid complications—especially those posed by homosexuality; who wrestles with his need to turn his life into art, and his desire to push away life so he can create his art. DMcF 4 AS 5.

The energy of the Icelandic sagas blends with an immensely detailed panorama of fourteenth-century life. Hollywood is not alluring in this savage, apocalyptic novel about fame and its perversions. Painter Tod Hackett comes to Hollywood to design sets and find success. Instead, he finds a population of the physically and psychically maimed crouching at the edges of the film industry, desperately believing that only luck and time separate them from stardom.

At the end, their disappointment explodes into violence and Tod sums up his despair with his single great painting: The Burning of Los Angeles. Set in the once working-class French Quarter of New Orleans, Williams tells the story of Blanche DuBois, an alcoholic relic of the waning genteel South, and her brother-in-law, the sensuous working-class brute Stanley Kowalski. Their mutual attraction and repulsion drive the conflict in this sexually frank, lyrical melodrama about the boundaries between illusion and reality and the changing South.

Aubyn The tension becomes almost unbearable as Rastignac wrestles with his conscience and readers confront Vautrin, whose contempt for conventional morality prefigures every existential hero since. The first great love story in English, this epic poem tells the story of what befell two lovers, Criseyde and Troilus, during the Trojan war.

Her pledge of eternal fidelity to Troilus is broken when she is seduced by the Greek warrior Diomedes. Is she a tramp or a victim of circumstances? Happily married with one child, Eliot Nailles is a chemist working to make better mouthwash. Chekhov helped transform the theater through his pioneering use of indirect action—the gunshot fired offstage—and his ability to develop themes not just through dialogue but by creating a mood or atmosphere on stage.

He was also a master of characterization. These skills are apparent in this wonderfully complex play, set on an estate in nineteenth-century Russia, which details the relationships among family members who look back on their lives with regret.

A retarded, nearly mute, harelipped man goes native in a South Africa torn by civil war, living off the land before being picked up and passed among institutions. However, Jim violates the code one life-defining night when, in a panic, he abandons his sinking ship while the passengers sleep. Often now misread as a condemnation of terrorism, The Secret Agent is really an ironic critique of abstract ideology and careerist bureaucracy—both forces that use and crush the individual.

Instead he hits Mary Dempster, who soon gives birth, prematurely, to a boy with birth defects. In the humorless martinet Gradgrind, who preaches and practices uncompromising logic and efficiency, Dickens lampoons the soulless utilitarianism of Victorian philosopher John Stuart Mill. Here she uses Anthony Keating, a former BBC official turned failed real estate developer, to explore the gloomy interregnum between the go-go s and the more seriously materialistic Thatcher era, when the cozy values of old England were growing increasingly shabby without any new values to replace them.

Dionysus seduces Pentheus into witnessing a Bacchanalian orgy, where he is torn to pieces by the revelers, including his own mother. The comic trouble starts when a naive footman rejects the advances of his employer, Lady Booby, and her servant, Slipslop. Like Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, the world rewards their goodness with violent complication. The year is and, it seems, reason is finally giving the heave-ho to faith.

Though he has made a pledge of celibacy, he is now in love and so must puzzle the questions of chaos and order, fate, chance, and the wonders of the soul in this funny, sharp novel of ideas. Here, Glasgow depicts the declining fortunes of two tradition-bound Virginia families, the Archibalds and the Birdsongs.

Through young Jenny Blair Archibald, she represents the possibility of feminine independence in this penetrating account of southerners being forced into the modern era. In this bleak but moving novel, class barriers stymie Jude, a self-educated stonemason and would-be scholar, while convention damns his lover Sue, a pagan protofeminist. TM 6 LShriv 2. Imitation is the most annoying form of flattery for archfiend Dr.

Hannibal Lecter in this terrifying predecessor to The Silence of the Lambs. Red Dragon describes the original capture of cannibalistic serial killer Lecter and his subsequent indignation on hearing that another monster is imitating his sadistic methods. Harris skillfully leaves open who is manipulating whom when Lecter agrees to help the FBI track down the copycat, who matches Lecter eye for eye—literally.

Set before and during World War II, Shining Through mixes romance with espionage as a poor girl from Queens marries the most handsome lawyer on Wall Street and eventually is sent on a secret mission to wartime Berlin. After a nuclear war devastates the planet, residents of what had been the Florida Keys try to rebuild their lives and communities in a landscape where shards from the obliterated past—religious stories, Jimi Hendrix records, parking decks—remain but are barely understood.

Gregor is not dreaming; he really has become a bug who hides under the sofa to keep from horrifying his mother, and who is pummeled with apples and cursed by his father. The strange magic of the story is the way Kafka sustains our empathy with this creature, such that the bizarre and claustrophobic scenes intensify, and even haunt, our awareness of human vulnerability. A pastiche that deliberately recalls the narrative games of Tristram Shandy, this novel uses seven thematically linked tales as well as forays into philosophy, musicology, literary criticism, and autobiography to explore the permeable borders between Eastern and Western Europe, eroticism and banal libertinism, and the public versus the private, which Kundera sees as the shrinking, doomed cradle of civilization.

It shows the planning and politics of the insurrection, the street battles that accompanied it, and the successful, remorselessly cruel nationalist counterattack the nationalist general throws captured communists in the furnaces of a train. When the book was published in , the Chinese revolution looked kaput. When the communists triumphed in , it seemed prophetic.

Like a late nineteenth-century Tom Wolfe, Maupassant reveals the codes and rivalries of social success by chronicling the rise of Georges Duroy, a handsome, down on his heels ex-soldier. Georges rewards his friend by coveting his wife, Madeleine, a smart, energetic free spirit who seems like Madame Bovary—after successful therapy. When her husband dies, Georges proposes literally over his corpse.

But soon he is looking even higher. Seeking escape, Norwood decides to find an old Marine buddy who owes him seventy dollars. After terrorists blow up their plane, two Indian actors fall from the sky. When they land, one has a halo, the other horns. This lush, lyric, sensual, and surreal novel then follows two main interrelated plots that skate along the blurry lines between good and evil, love and betrayal, knowledge and ignorance.

The tension mounts when Moreau learns his adversary hopes to wed his beloved. Sebald During decades of travels through Europe, a nameless architectural historian accidentally keeps meeting Austerlitz, a neurasthenic architect who is incrementally confronting his buried connection to the Holocaust. Incantatory and almost vertiginous in its repetitiveness, this one-paragraph novel depicts the struggle of a personal narrative to melt the frozen memory of collective trauma. This parable about the parent—child bond features an apple tree that gives and gives and a boy who takes and takes.

As the boy matures, his needs become harder to meet. But the tree never fails, ultimately sacrificing life and limb. Comic and tragic, the story moves with symphonic grace toward its final denouement. These beautifully structured stories are vast in range, moving from supernatural tales to historical stories of love. Tagore, who won the Nobel Prize for literature in , is especially good at portraying the little moments of daily life and creating vivid characters—often the poor and dispossessed in his native India—that continue to haunt us.

Tom even manages to eavesdrop on his own funeral. The way he convinces his friends to pay him for the privilege of whitewashing his fence proves that he is a trickster for the ages. And white lies are even more complicated, as two young Englishmen of leisure learn when they try to avoid undesirable social obligations by claiming their noble services are required by needy and imaginary friends. This searing story of two sisters, both destined for unhappiness, and their unfolding lives, is riveting.

The novel follows the sisters, children of divorce, over four decades. Sarah settles into an unhappy marriage while Emily is torn by one love affair after another, and her burgeoning job success begins to fade out along with her romantic prospects. The ending, as Emily begins her slow spiral down is shocking and somehow inevitable.

Gorgeously written, this book deserves to find a new audience. These tales of medieval chivalry, romance, and high adventure composed primarily from the twelfth through fifteenth centuries feature a host of iconic characters: Sir Galahad, Lancelot, Mordred, Guinevere, Merlin, and the Lady of the Lake. Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy: for girls who grew up reading about these four sisters, the names run together as readily as John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

Readers get their pick of heroines: motherly Meg, harum-scarum Jo, goodness-personified Beth, or naughty Amy. Cared for by their saintly mother, Marmee, while their father is away fighting in the Civil War, the sisters get into scrapes, go on larks, find love, and suffer loss. TBiss 6 RW 1. Austen doubled her heroines here, giving us the down-on-their-luck Dashwood sisters.

Following the painful end of an eight-year lesbian relationship, Barnes crafted this avant-garde novel that explores love, desire, and obsession in rich lyric prose. Set mostly in Paris during the years between the world wars, Nightwood revolves around the mysterious Robin Vote and the two lovers she abandoned: her German husband, Baron Felix Volkbein, and an American woman, Nora Flood.

Heartbroken and confused, the spurned lovers seek advice from a most unlikely source, an alcoholic transvestite named Dr. Moses Herzog has two problems: his book on imagination and the intellect has stalled and his second wife has run away with his best friend. This is the first novel featuring hard-boiled Los Angeles private eye Philip Marlowe, a tough guy with a fast gun and a quick wit.

CH 4 RBP 3. In this gloomy Russian drama, the youthful hopes of siblings Olga, Masha, and Irina Prozorov curdle with time into the desperate sins and bitter resentments of later life. Often called a play in which nothing happens, The Three Sisters—one of four major dramas written by Chekhov at the end of his life—is actually a masterly study in dramatic texture, its voices and themes counterpointing each other as if they were notes in an orchestral piece.

The trilogy moves outward: The first novel creates a series of characters that are real grotesques, offering vignettes of adultery, drunkenness, and destroyed dreams. Life gets no easier in the second novel, but Big Lucien Letourneau, who runs an automobile junkyard, displays a rare and generous compassion.

The third novel, which has the most political overtones, echoes the legend of Robin Hood to suggest how Egypt, Maine, and her people have been exploited. Infused with the radical politics of the s and s and littered with newspaper excerpts, stream of consciousness prose, and biography, this triptych weaves an epic American narrative tapestry.

Mixing newspaper reportage with fiction long before the word postmodern gave academics something to write about, U. NM 5 RBP 2. While the title suggests a rational universe, this novel focuses on the jarring dislocations of three women who meet at Cambridge in the s. Expatriate experience and cultural contrasts energize the knowing, roomy fiction of the native Canadian, sometime Parisian, master. The comedians—who hide their true identities behind masks—include Mr.

Brown, a failed art swindler and now inheritor of a waning imperial hotel, Mr. Jones, a con man, and the oblivious Mr. Smith, who dreams of establishing a vegetarian center on the troubled island. As Greene contrasts these schemers with men combating Duvalier, he delivers a gripping geopolitical novel that packs a moral punch. The story of a good man enmeshed in love, intrigue, and evil in a West African coastal town.

Scobie is bound by strict integrity to his role as assistant police commissioner and by severe responsibility to his wife, Louise, for whom he cares with a fatal pity. When Scobie falls in love with the young widow Helen, he finds vital passion again yielding to pity, integrity giving way to deceit and dishonor—a vortex leading directly to murder. As Scobie's world crumbles, his personal crisis makes for a novel that is suspenseful, fascinating, and, finally, tragic.

LShriv 7. Over the course of a festive summer in the Italian countryside, Sophie, who is half English and half Italian, has an affair with Tancredi, an Italian who is separated from his wife and family. Like Anna Karenina and Emma Bovary, Hedda Gabler is trapped in a loveless marriage, which she entered into for security and cannot leave for fear of scandal. PCle 3 VV 4.

By the time McMurphy learns that he is now under the cruel control of Nurse Ratched and the asylum, he has already set the wheels of rebellion in motion. White This inspiringly sad story of misfits in a working-class Georgia town is attuned to the racial and social dynamics of the Depression-era South. Yet, McCullers also conveys a pervasive loneliness and desperation broader than any given historical moment. A broken Everyman, Willy Loman is about to be fired from his job as a traveling shoe salesman.

A withering assault on the American Dream, the play is an affecting portrait of a man unable to understand the forces that have shaped his life. The beautiful princess Elizabeth is about to marry Prince Ronald when a dragon destroys her castle, burns her clothes and kidnaps Ronald. The clothes-less Princess—and proto-feminist heroine—dons a large paper bag and hunts down the dragon and her cherished prince. Gritty realism, social conscience, and American dreams power this tale of an oafish mineworker who becomes an unlicensed dentist in San Francisco.

He marries a young woman and together they share a happy life, until she wins a small fortune in the lottery. This luck enflames their greed and the envy of their friends, leading to ruin for all and to one of the most memorable climaxes in literature: two men—one alive, one dead—handcuffed to one another in Death Valley.

His versions of Orpheus, Narcissus, Pygmalion, and Hercules have been etched in our collective memory. Of all the Latin authors, Ovid, who also wrote a sex manual, is the one who never once reminds you of a marble bust. The author, a maverick cleric and observant physician, gave our modern world, at the moment of its birth in the Renaissance, its first comprehensive picture of what it was and what it could become.

The world borrowed his name for its most treasured and common kind of humor: Rabelaisian, meaning rowdy, rude, satirical, unsparing, obscene, and sometimes cruel. As Rabelais invented a new literary form, the exorbitant picaresque satire, he invented a new language to express it. His pages are a Babel of polyglot puns, monkish obscurities, legalisms, overblown fustian, and street demotic.

Lists abound: diseases and cures, body parts, herbs, geographical oddities, and cusswords in droves. At the same time, it presents an earthy panorama of daily concerns and relationships. Unique among the great visionary works, Gargantua and Pantagruel is the only slapstick comedy. Among all comedies, it is one of the best. Rochester, the mad wife locked in the attic. Rhys said the fame this book brought her, at age 70, came too late.

Truly, an essential read. Like Ernest Hemingway, Rulfo found men who are shaped by violence too fascinating to judge or condemn. Set in the period around the Mexican Revolution, his short stories use pared down prose to portray peasants who are seized sometimes by historical forces and given the opportunity to create and destroy on a mass scale.

More usually, they decimate or are decimated in miserable increments. Seemingly unrelated, the sketches weave a strange tapestry of grief, tranquility, nostalgia, and despair. Seuss This picture book is a poignant environmental fable about a beautiful forest of Truffula trees destroyed for the sake of the mass production of curious garments called Thneeds.

Despite its hopeful title, this coming-of-age story set in offers an unflinching look at poverty, cruelty, sex, and death. A coming-of-age story filled with high adventure and Scottish history, this is the story of David Balfour, an orphan sent in to live with his greedy uncle. David and another captive escape the ship. Tolkien — An Oxford medievalist, Tolkien drew on his vast knowledge of mythology, theology, and linguistics to imagine this epic trilogy.

CD 6 RPow 1. Its blustering, bumfuzzled antihero is Ignatius J. Reilly, an unintentionally hilarious, altogether deluded, and oddly endearing student of man who lives with his mother in New Orleans. Forced by a series of misadventures to finally find work, he endures stints as a pirate-clad hot dog vendor and a file clerk. The novel—the second in the Palliser series—is long.

But Trollope reminds us that sometimes more is more. Wondrously, Walker gives voice to the unlikeliest of heroes—a barely literate teenager named Celie who writes letters to God as an escape from life with her monstrous stepfather. After raping and impregnating her, he forces her to marry Mr.

Hope comes in the form of Shug, Mr. If cats have nine lives, pigs have two—at least Wilbur did. This grand experiment in narrative depicts six characters—from nursery school to the brink of old age—through a series of interior soliloquies. This bawdy, funny, surreal, and encyclopedic Chinese classic stretches across chapters. Reality and illusion shift constantly in the world of Jia Baoyu, scion of the wealthy but declining Jia family.

He is a master at the arts of poetry, philosophy, and love but meets his match in his frail, beautiful cousin Lin Daiyu, one of the twelve beauties of Jinling. Its protagonist, John Wilder, is a prototypical Yates underachiever: an advertising salesman misled by delusions of an artistic career as a movie producer and hampered by inherited weaknesses, a hopeful yet doomed marriage made during the glamorous Kennedy era, and a series of breakdowns that reveal his irreversible ordinariness.

Not quite tragedy, but memorable indeed for its uncompromising, compassionate bleakness. Twice the tramps ponder hanging themselves from the branches of a nearby willow tree; twice they try to make sense of a stranger named Pozzo and his leashed servant Lucky. All the characters abide in a world peculiar for its absences: of meaning, rationality, consolation, and of course the slyly named Godot. With sharp psychological and emotional insight, Bernhard takes readers inside the mind of his narrator as he ruminates angrily on his hosts and their other guests, picking over his memories of his relationship with them and the dead woman.

This signature exploration of dislocation follows three young Americans—a married couple and their friend—journeying across the North African desert in search of deeper truths. As their surroundings become more foreign and forbidding, they become unmoored as their connection to the world, each other, and themselves unravels in this work of deep psychological acuity.

His portrait of inner-city blight rises to high tragedy as Brown paints it against the hopes of Southern blacks who came north for the promise of a better life. Just out of jail, sixty-seven-year-old Gulley Jimson, a fast-talking, derelict painter obsessed with William Blake, works to complete his depiction of the Fall of Man in this wicked comic novel.

Jimson is brilliant, irredeemable, and obnoxious. One guest stays to learn how the mariner shot the albatross, considered an omen of good luck, and doomed his ship. Though saved from death, the mariner is condemned to walk the earth and tell his story, which may be read as a Christian allegory or as a warning against defiling nature. A cross between Charles Bukowski and John Kennedy Toole, this harrowing, hilarious autobiographical novel portrays a raw and likable barstool dreamer.

He is a slovenly, all-American misfit headed for the psychiatric institution, who fills his head with all-American fantasies of fame, wealth, and beautiful women. While the Brits might be repressed at home, they seem to lose their heads and sometimes their clothes in hot, hot Italy. This eagle-eyed satire of the Italian effect stars the wealthy and young Lucy Honeychurch, who switches hotel rooms in Florence with a lower-class British father and son and then fights her mounting attraction to the son as well as her building rebelliousness against the corset of Victorian manners.

Some, like the intellectual Piggy, try to develop rules and society, but savagery takes hold and the boys revert to an order based on violence, tribalism, and eerie rites. Shortly after San Francisco private eye Sam Spade accepts a case from a beautiful and mysterious young woman, his partner, Miles Archer, is killed.

As the two cases intersect, Spade finds himself involved with an eccentric assortment of thugs and con men, all in search of the titular black statue of a falcon said to be worth millions. Mama wants a home, her daughter Beneatha an education, and her son Walter a business. What ensues is a generational debate over values and whether or not African Americans can realize the American Dream.

This is the story of a divorced woman, her disillusioned teenage son, and the events that change their lives in ways both simple and extraordinary. When Keith Rosen runs away from his Florida home - inexplicably taking along a motherless baby - his mother is perplexed and terrified. She takes off on her own journey to find him. The novel follows their path, in a suspenseful and beautifully written story.

James deeply admired Balzac. James leaves the reader to wonder which man hurt her worse: the father who told the truth or the lover who deceived her? The unpublished writer and unhappily married Isadora Wing yearns to fly free and receives her epiphany through an affair and the discovery of her own sexuality and power. Many critics dismissed Jong as a pornographer in literary clothing; her protagonist, they claimed, was as self-absorbed as the baby boomers themselves.

But the book sold millions and became a touchstone for a much greater social movement. Nineteen-year-old Lucy happily leaves her West Indian home and domineering mother to work as an au pair for a well-off and well-meaning American family. But as she develops a new sense of self and independence, she is forced to grapple with life as an outsider, a servant, and a woman of color in a country obsessed with race yet blind to history. The second half is far more meditative as it focuses on the character Laurie—a church-goer conducting an adulterous affair—who suffers a crisis of faith that becomes a profound spiritual journey.

A later inspiration to the Beat generation, Miller offers various philosophical interludes expressing his joy in life, hostility to social convention, and reverence for women and sex, which he describes with abandon. PCle 4 JH 2. Biswas by V. Naipaul An Indian man living in Trinidad, Mr.

Biswas is a tenant in some houses and an unfavored relative in others. All he wants is a home of his own. His adult son narrates this story of his monumental search for a home and all that implies. A progressive activist and single mother who toiled beside and fought for the working class, Olsen was fifty years old when this, her first book, was published. This deceptively slim volume of four short stories contains a lifetime of experience, depicting the often anguished lives of women and their children, the difficulties of aging, and the challenges faced by immigrants.

Perhaps the funniest suicide note ever written, this novel is the last goodbye of a single New York woman. But finding a proper mate proves impossible in swinging Manhattan and her quest turns to hopeless despair in this clever, insightful, and often heartbreaking book.

Remarque drew on his military experience to craft this seminal antiwar novel. As the senseless bloodbath continues, hope turns to disillusionment, and death comes to seem a welcome reprieve in this gritty and poignant tale. As they await their release, each displays a theatrical or technical skill to be showcased at a gala ball. The trouble begins when the king of fairies interferes with the Athenian couples via his agent Puck, who administers love potions to the wrong characters.

The ensuing confusion is finally resolved in the fifth act as the royal marriage is celebrated by the performance of a hilarious piece of nonsense staged by simple guildsmen led by Bottom the weaver, whose dream gives the play its name. This groundbreaking nonfiction work by a tenth-century lady of the Chinese court uses the list as the structure for personal essays that are bold, funny, unapologetic, and cantankerous.

Taylor creates stories that are novelistic in their pacing as he digresses and speculates on alternative possibilities to the narrative at hand. Often told by men reflecting on the past, these stories suggest that time does not slay mores and ideas but reinvents them. Blaming himself for her fate, he follows her into exile in Siberia to atone for his actions and the loss of his youthful idealism. A hybrid of literary forms—poetry, prose, and drama—and a groundbreaking work of black literature, this book is a collage of portraits of African Americans from the urban North to the rural South.

From a simple premise—a proud but poor clergyman, Josiah Crawley, is accused of stealing twenty pounds—Trollope creates a web of vivid characters and intrigues while completing a monumental set of works about mid-nineteenth-century England that rival the classics of George Eliot and Charles Dickens.

I remember wandering through the world literature section of my university library, feeling a bit lost, recognizing few names. On the recommendation of my writing instructor I was searching for a Peruvian novelist named Mario Vargas Llosa.

I found a coverless edition of The Green House, one with no blurbs, no review quotes, no author photo or biography. The surprises found inside, then, were complete and unforgettable. With The Green House , Vargas Llosa began to explore the ongoing battle that started the moment European culture collided with that of the Americas. The novel is populated by all segments of Peruvian society: indigenous Indians, people of Latin origins, immigrants cast ashore on Peru for myriad reasons—from nuns and Fathers to prostitutes and pimps.

It ranges from the depths of the rainforest to windblown desert outposts. One can see the influence of Faulkner, of Sartre and Flaubert, but the manner in which Vargas Llosa transmuted Western influences to enrich his tale remains remarkable. And, I wondered, if this Peruvian writer could do this, what else might be happening out there? By inspiring that question The Green House drew me into a much more complete world of literature.

Ultimately, Esther rallies against a sterile world and finds a way to live. Plath did not. JGil 1 SMK 5. The author draws on the eight years he spent in Soviet prisons to write this harrowing novel of the Soviet gulags. Inmates and prisoners are always cold, always hungry, always scheming for crumbs, and willing to betray each other for less in this Siberian labor camp. Her story focuses on her uncle, the eccentric and irrepressible Daniel Ponder, whose poor marriages created as many problems as his generous heart.

In this short novel on the soul-sickness of mass society, a New York advice columnist with a Christ complex is laid low by his taste for married women and his belief in his own redemptive powers. The letters in Miss Lonelyhearts were based on actual missives to residents of two hotels the novelist managed in the s—letters West steamed open to read. WK 3 APat 3. As she details the stirrings of blind ethnic hatred among the Serbs and Croats, she offers a preview of nightmares to come.

Two years later she completed this intimate first-person narrative of the second-century emperor. A feminist and civil rights activist, Bambara strove to create literature that reflected the experiences of black women, the strength of black communities from the urban North to the rural South, and the challenges they faced. Digressions, asides, and stories within stories fill this bawdy, raucous parody of eighteenth-century fiction that reimagines the life of Ebenezer Cooke, who wrote a satirical poem titled The Sot-Weed Factor in Language sizzles in this Rabelasian tale that includes one of the longest lists of insults ever committed to paper.

So Bedford sets us down, with remarkable velocity and confidence, right in the middle of the world to which she is going to devote the next pages. This is the world of Germany before the Second World War. Because Bedford published A Legacy in , her knowledge of what was to come invests the novel with an air of fragility and foreboding. Yet what is perhaps most astonishing about this astonishingly rich novel—more memorable, for me, even than E.

As always with Bellow, comedy is the handmaiden of an ultimate optimism. The linguistic virtuosity of this futuristic tale—told in nadsat, a russified English—lures us into an unwilling complicity in the drug-fueled bouts of ultraviolence committed by Alex and his droogs comrades.

Cain After shedding her philandering, unemployed husband, Mildred Pierce works menial jobs to support her two children before discovering a gift for making and selling pies in Depression-era California. These weaknesses join to form a perfect storm of betrayal and murder in this hard-boiled tale.

JLB 4 MCon 1. When a drifter enters her roadside diner, a sexy young woman imagines a new life. Together they plot the murder of her boorish husband in this noir classic, in which spare prose and desperate characters raise dime-store pulp to an art form. This prescient and humorous Czech novel—part allegory, part satire, part science fiction romp—begins with the discovery of a new species of giant newt by a sea captain in an obscure tropical bay. Initially exploited for their pearl-harvesting abilities, the newts become the objects of scientific experimentation and then a massive global slave trade before they rise up and revolt, bringing humanity to its knees.

As the Nazis bore down on Britain, Coward filled London theaters with this gay and witty farce about death. Who should appear but his first wife, dead these six years and none too happy about wife number two. Professor Jack Gladney teaches Hitler studies at the local college and trawls through the tabloid mall of American culture with his pill-popping fourth wife and their four preternaturally knowing children.

This apocalyptic cult classic amusingly and then chillingly captures how media culture has become not just our atmosphere but our food and oxygen. He is condemned to a remote prison where he finds out who framed him and about a treasure hidden on the Island of Monte Cristo. After fourteen years he escapes, finds the fortune, and returns to Paris where he dazzles the swells while seeking revenge on his enemies.

Lyrical, imagistic, and structured in cumulative short passages, Duras combines the beautiful and the terrible in this slim, compelling novel. Alfred Prufrock by T. Eliot An ancient stone ax head connects the three young protagonists in this bleak science fiction novel set around Cheshire, England, during three time periods—the Roman Empire, the English Civil War, and the present day.

Their experiences echo each other in this experimental tale told almost entirely in dialogue. Packed with conspiracies, intrigues, bright language, and even more colorful characters, these novels enter the mind and mores of late Elizabethan and early Stuart England through dramatic events: Death of the Fox hinges on the rise, fall, and execution of Sir Walter Raleigh in ; The Succession re-creates the royal rivalries that surfaced as James I assumed the throne in ; Entered from the Sun focuses on the possible political implications of the murder of poet and playwright Christopher Marlowe in Accusatory, opaque, redundant—the novel is also, oddly enough, compulsively readable and perversely memorable.

Green was the pen name for British industrialist Henry Vincent Yorke, whose kaleidoscopic, impressionistic novels including cryptic plots and sentences without articles or verbs have drawn comparisons to fellow high-modernists Gertrude Stein, Picasso, and Monet.

Blindness details the terror of a blind young man confined to a room by his wife. Doting a comedy of adulterous near-misses and Nothing about two ex-lovers whose children are getting married consist almost entirely of pitch-perfect dialogue. A child of the Romantic era, Hawthorne nonetheless remained haunted by his Puritan forefathers. He peoples them with Puritans, witches, American Indians, and revolutionaries, and narrates the fate of all with his trademark combination of lively Gothic fantasy and critical irreverence.

After the dissolution of her marriage to a German prince, Eugenia Munster and her artist brother Felix visit their wealthy relatives in the countryside near Boston. A small inheritance brings Pearl Dickenson—a smart, resourceful, and independent African American woman—to rural Maine.

She stays for the peace and security it seems to offer. She takes over a local diner and takes on two lovers, both of whom have troubled pasts. These liaisons turn to trouble, threatening Pearl and her community. Displaying his trademark ability to turn pulp into art, Leonard elevates the classic Western through the story of John Russell, a white man raised partly by Apache Indians who taught him how to fight and survive. The action begins when Russell boards a stagecoach and is rejected by passengers because of his roots.

When outlaws pounce, the others turn to him for protection. Leonard answers that question in this action-filled tale while probing Western myths, issues of race, and our responsibilities to our unlikable fellow man. The son of a zookeeper, Pi Patel has an encyclopedic knowledge of animal behavior and a fervent love of stories. When Pi is sixteen, his family emigrates from India to North America aboard a Japanese cargo ship, along with their zoo animals bound for new homes.

The ship sinks. Pi finds himself alone in a lifeboat, his only companions a hyena, an orangutan, a wounded zebra, and Richard Parker, a pound Bengal tiger. Soon the tiger has dispatched all but Pi, whose fear, knowledge, and cunning allow him to coexist with Richard Parker for days while lost at sea. When they finally reach the coast of Mexico, Richard Parker flees to the jungle, never to be seen again. The Japanese authorities who interrogate Pi refuse to believe his story and press him to tell them "the truth.

Instead, they find—surprise! Infused with Freudian theories—especially about male sexuality—and Jungian archetypes, this novel centers on a man who must search his soul and his mind after his wife leaves him for her psychoanalyst. With often dark, deadpan humor, Murdoch uses deception, adultery, and sex to address morality and responsibility, the nature of reality, and the power of the unconscious. The little hand serving me coffee is also the hand that wrote the exquisite novel La Flor de Lis Daughters of royalty flee France under siege from World War Il, and in the course of their childhood and adolescence in Mexico, we witness the discovery of what it means to belong to a culture, what it means to fall in love, and what, after all, it means to be a woman, because the story is steeped in the body of a woman, in the body of that country.

Nowhere else have I read anyone describe the joy of scrubbing a courtyard with a bucket of suds and a broom. And that ultimately sums up how a writer like Elenita became Elena Poniatowska. What we do for love, after all, is the greatest work we can do. This epic trilogy, comprised of Northern Lights a. Like Adam and Eve, Lyra and Will embrace knowledge. But for them it is the path to liberation, not damnation. Readers should be grateful that Dr. Phil was not around in If he had been, Mary Shelley may have chosen to discuss her traumatic life with him.

Instead, she turned trauma into art and wrote Frankenstein, in which the outcast Dr. This novel about unwanted things is gripping, frightening, inspiring, and very different from the movies based on it. Like many returning soliders, Tayo, who is half white and half Laguna Indian, has a hard time readjusting to civilian life after World War II, when he was held prisoner by the Japanese.

Instead of venting his rage or turning to drink, he connects with a medicine man who helps him find solace through traditional ceremonies that reveal life as a process of change and growth. Along the way, she tries on different men for husband potential and struggles not to let the fantasy become too threadbare when some broad daylight is splashed upon it.

A sharp critique of the limits society placed on women and the empty dreams it manufactured for them, this novel tells the story of Undine Spragg, a relentless social climber who will attach herself to any man to raise her station.

Her ambition and her unquenchable need for prestige and flattery blinds her to the strengths of these men, whom she injures, and to her own humanity, which she surrenders. Wodehouse Right ho! His protagonist is Ulrich, whose father was executed for plotting against Hitler.

Ulrich—a cipher who married, conspired with, and has now informed on a left-wing terrorist—has returned to his fatherland after a long absence to seek his estranged wife and his own true paternity and patrimony. There are white and aqua tablecloths and potted flowers on the tables, and there is a warm glow coming from the lamps that line the edge of the stone patio. Within minutes, she leans over to ask if she can join me. I nod readily, and she carries a glass of wine over to the seat across from mine.

She has a cheerful disposition and a lovely lilting accent, which reminds me of another Australian woman I once met on a train between Assisi and Arezzo. Solo travel has its rewards to be sure, but it can be a hard and lonely business sometimes, which is what makes sharing an unexpected meal with a sociable stranger so comforting.

I bought a pair of Italian paintings that day that hang on the opposite sides of my living room window at home in Vermont. When I tell him of my plans for the day, he says that the antique dealers and their wares are spread out along a chain of piazzas, and he circles the map to get me started—Piazza Napoleone, Piazza del Giglio, Piazza San Martino, and Piazza San Giovanni. It depicts a group of boaters on the Arno, with the imposing tower of the Palazzo Vecchio and the red dome of Santa Maria del Fiore dominating the city skyline in the background.

I ponder this for a bit and ask for advice from a helpful Brit who owns a gallery in town. Moreover, it would be difficult to find a local shipping company before I leave for Pisa in the morning. It is the weekend, after all. There are art dealers who handle such things, of course, but that would require the formality of Italian export laws , which treat antiques as cultural assets.

He says that it could both time consuming and costly to acquire approval. Inasmuch as I like the painting, I decide not to risk it in the end. And, of course, I walk along the city walls, alongside joggers, and bicyclists, and families with strollers. One of the great composers of Italian opera, Giacomo Puccini was born in Lucca in and has remained a favorite son ever since. The daily concerts that are offered during the Puccini e la sua Lucca festival appeal unapologetically to the tourist crowd.

Lasting just an hour, they are the perfect pre-dinner recital, and the musical selections are largely arias and duets from accessible and well-known operas, including Tosca, Madame Butterfly, and Turnadot. Still, the soloists are first rate and I enjoy it immensely, with one exception.

There is a woman in the row in front of me who insists on videotaping the entire event on her cell phone, probably for bragging rights back home to impress friends and family with her cultured taste. The night air has grown chilly and I wish I had thought to bring a jacket. Tonight, in a tradition that dates back more than years, over , candles will be lit along the banks of the Arno.

With plenty of time to get there, I decide to linger on in Lucca for nearly half the day. There are street vendors selling balloons and candy and roasted nuts. There are also platforms in the river itself, from which fireworks will be launched at the end of the night. At the insistence of an old woman behind the counter at Catherine di Rofrano Patrizio, who speaks no English but communicates exceedingly well in gestures, I buy an aqua wrap dress with a low V-neck because she thinks it brings out the color of my eyes.

I also pick out a simple coral sun dress from Vuerre, since it matches the Murano glass necklace I bought in Venice. I follow Corso Italia all the way down to the train station and back before stopping for a casual dinner in Piazza Chiara Gambacorti. I order a caprese salad and a plate of ravioli in a walnut cream sauce, and while neither are particularly good, the lively atmosphere more than makes up for the food.

There is a flag with a Pisan cross hanging from an open window, a man on stilts walking about in red and black polka dot pants, and a cluster of balloons representing an odd mix of pop culture icons—from Smurfs and Barbies and Winnie the Poohs, to Spongebob Squarepants and Tweety Bird. I head back to the hotel for a fresh camera battery, a new storage card, and a small tripod.

By PM, the sky has deepened into a rich cobalt blue and the candles on the palazzos are twinkling like a thousand strands of Christmas lights. It says a lot about a people to watch them celebrate. There is more celebrating to do in Pisa today, but things will have to go on without me.

Teams of oarsmen representing each of the four neighborhoods will row against the current, down to the Palazzo Medici, and climb a rope to grab a flag at the top of a ten meter pole mounted at the finish line. I decide to walk down to the Jewish Ghetto —one of my very favorite neighborhoods in Rome—to grab a sandwich from a take-out counter instead.

I continue on, through Piazza Margana and along Via dei Delfini. I move out of the open square and seek out the shade of narrow streets on a pilgrimage to the Pantheon. Even centuries after its construction in the first century AD, it was such an impressive feat of engineering that Filippo Brunelleschi studied it before drafting his own plans for the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore in Florence. Nearby, I pause to watch a pair of street performers. They are cross-legged and silent, holding prayer beads.

One is mysteriously levitating above the other with no means of visible support, aside from a single raised hand holding a pole. No one seems able to figure it out , and that for me merits an easy Euro tip. I circle back, past the shop window of Ghezzi Luciano , where there are ornate monstrances and chasubles and mitres on display—a reminder that Vatican City and the Holy See are just across the Tiber.

When I emerge onto Corso Vittorio Emanuele, the street is throbbing with the noise of rush hour traffic. I cross over at the light and stop at Largo di Torre Argentina to visit the feral cats who sprawl across the ruins at the sanctuary there, clearly enjoying the heat of day far more than I. By now, the air conditioning back in my room at the hotel is beckoning. When I venture out again for dinner at eight, the air feels thick, but the sun has fallen behind the roofline and the atmosphere is more pleasant.

I walk across the Ponte Palatino to Trastevere, where I settle into a table on the patio of Il Ponentino , under the shade of an umbrella. The waiter comes by and I order a bruschetta to start, and then a plate of cacio e pepe , a simple pasta dish made with cheese and pepper that I had once enjoyed in Arezzo. Tonight, however, my pronunciation reduces the man to peels of laughter, and he warns me, in English, that I should be careful how I say that.

Tommaso, at the Hotel Davanzati in Florence, was fond of correcting my pitiful Italian. If he were here, undoubtedly he would find that very funny, indeed. I walk along the Tiber after dinner, through the stalls of the Lungo il Tevere Roma festival, where temporary bars and restaurants have sprung up for the summer. There is live music here and there, and scores of vendors selling clothing and jewelry. By the time I reach the Ponte Palatino, the bridge is quiet and there is a dusky peach sky behind the dome of St.

I stop to take a picture, to capture a fleeting moment in time. Some of my fondest memories of the Hotel Hosianum Palace are of having breakfast on the rooftop terrace, high among the church spires and the winged chariots that perch on top of the Vittorio Emanuele monument. That was on my first trip to Italy in Alas, this morning, there is a sign yet again directing guests to the breakfast room in the basement.

Surely, with temperatures soaring into the 90s, it is no longer too frigid to sit outdoors—even by sensitive Italian standards—so I ask the manager for an explanation, pointing to the envelope that holds my key card. Why, exactly, is the terrace closed in the middle of June, I ask? Now, things are getting perfectly ridiculous. The last measureable precipitation Rome had was on June 4, the day I flew to Venice, and even that was just a tenth of an inch. I need to top up the minutes on my SIM card.

When I see a Uomo Nuovo demonstration spilling out of Piazza Colonna, it inspires me to protest an injustice of my own. Perhaps I should rally the guests back at the hotel to storm the barricades tomorrow morning, to fight for our right to dine al fresco. There is a fine collection of Roman sculptures, including a marble copy of the original bronze discus thrower, his torso twisted and his muscles flexed. For me, though, the most impressive artifacts by far are the frescoes and mosaics.

There are thousands of individually cut pieces of stone—called tesserae —most no larger than a centimeter across. There are also a number of stunning room frescoes, including one from an underground triclinium at the Villa of Livia. Discovered in , but dating back to the 1st century B. There are quince and pomegranate and boxwood trees, as well as poppies, ferns, violets, and irises. As I walk toward Piazza della Reppublica afterwards, the oppressive heat that has descended on the city makes me wish I had lingered longer in the painted garden inside.

But there are a number of sites I am determined to see, and my map looks like a game of connect the dots, with a long zig-zag line that stops at the Spanish Steps. Across the street, I can see the crumbling brick wall that is the entrance to the basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli.

If I can find a pleasant oasis like this every hour or so, I just might be able to get through the day. On my first trip to Italy in , I visited the Catacombs of San Callisto along the old Appian Way, but nothing has prepared me for this, not even the catacombs beneath the streets of Paris.

There are alcoves of human bones, sectioned into parts—skulls in one, thigh bones in another, pelvises in a third, and so on—like a grandiose Halloween display. But the bones are not merely in neat stacks, as they are in Paris, with an occasional decorative flourish. They are woven into elaborate designs, including a skeletal grim reaper, holding scales and a scythe made of vertebrae. I leave grateful, though, because at least it was cool inside.

Yes, I suppose they would. My final stop for the day is a social one. A colleague of mine from work is in Rome for a few days attending a conference. It has a stunning terrace overlooking the city, and he wants me to see it. Originally, I had hoped to go to the Papal Audience in St. The website also advises visitors to arrive two hours early for a security screening and to expect the Audience itself to last at least an hour. I decide to scrap Plan A. I devise Plan B over breakfast—which is, incidentally, still in the godforsaken basement of the Hotel Hosianum Palace , and not on the rooftop terrace.

At least that would have allowed me to escape the burning pavement of the city and retreat to a greener locale. My bad luck with bus tours has continued, however. The phone line keeps patching me through to a call center in the United States, where the difference in time zones makes it much too early to reach anyone during business hours.

Outside of hotel rooms, air conditioning is a rarity in Rome, especially in museums. When I was first there in , I was on an organized tour that careened through the galleries at breakneck speed. At least something has gone according to plan today. In their only gesture toward crowd control, the Vatican Museums are arranged into a one-way street, with large black arrows printed on the gallery map.

I devote the rest of the afternoon to inquisitive exploration. I visit the Pinacoteca for the first time, which the tour guide had bypassed entirely on my previous trip, and also the Padiglione delle Carrozze , which has an historic collection of cars and carriages, including the white jeep John Paul II was riding in when he was shot on May 13, In Florence, the dome of Santa Maria del Fiore is clearly visible, as is the octagonal baptistery in front.

And today in Venice, all a time traveler would have to do is pull up a chair in Piazza San Marco to feel perfectly at home in familiar surroundings. There are vendors selling colorful paper parasols to shade the sun, and people are buying them in droves. Combined with shorts and T-shirts, it makes the average tourist look like an out of place extra in a production of Madame Butterfly.

Despite showing him the address of the Hotel Hosianum Palace on a business card, he takes me somewhere else entirely, a Via dei Prefetti instead of Via dei Polacchi, and then insists on running the meter all the back to the proper destination.

When we get there, I refuse to pay him in full and we settle on a smaller amount, but the experience still leaves me steamed. Feeling as much refreshed by the meal as by the cool descent of night, afterwards I decide to stroll down Via dei Fori Imperiali to take some pictures. An impressive silence broods over the monstrous structure where such multitudes of men and women were wont to assemble in other days.

The butterflies have taken the places of queens of fashion and beauty of eighteen centuries ago, and the lizards sun themselves in the sacred seat of the Emperor. Clustered around the brooding statue of Giordano Bruno, a Dominican monk who was burned at the stake here in , there are scores of umbrellas shading vendors from the sun.

There are fruit and vegetable stands and dried pastas for sale, as well as bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. And of course, there are flowers—big bunches of roses and chrysanthemums and daisies that burst with the vibrant colors of summer. It was by necessity at first, but then—ever so gradually—by choice. There is also a series of intricate still lifes of butterflies, insects, and shells by Jan van Kessel, another descendent in a complex and talented family tree. The sculptures I see are extraordinary.

Then there are the rows of heads in the Sala degli Imperatori , or Hall of the Emperors , including the famous Fonseca Bust, with her mound of intricately carved curls piled high upon her head. I relax for a while in my air conditioned room at the Hotel Hosianum Palace , where my bags are already packed and stowed in the corner. Earlier in the day, I had liked the quiet streets near the Chiostro del Bramante, so later I head back to Piazza Navona and veer off onto Via di Tor Millina, to a little osteria and wine bar called Cybo for dinner.

I stop to listen, and then continue on, back up the long stairs that lead to the Capitoline Hill, the lone statue of Marcus Aurelius on horseback, and the piazza designed by Michelangelo. What does it mean to have returned time and again, through sheer will and force of habit, to the same cities, the same hotels, and many of the same museums and streets?

There is always more to discover, and new faces to meet. In standing here, looking out across the vast remnants of Roman history, it occurs to me that time is more like layers of debris. Some memories we bury, but there are those we excavate purely for the joy of seeing them again, all the while building new walls and windows at the surface through which to see the world anew.

I made the decision to go back to Italy almost one year ago on a rainy afternoon in Paris, on a day that was—like so many others on that trip—unseasonably cold and damp. As melodramatic as it might sound, once I had witnessed the beauty of Italy with my own eyes, and felt myself transformed by it, I knew that was possible for someone to breathe their last, happy and content in the memory of such a place.

As I wandered that day through rooms full of Italian photographs, prints, and paintings from the golden age of The Grand Tour —that venerable trek that aristocrats used to make across the European continent—I felt strangely distant from my surroundings. Here I was in Paris, one of the most wonderful cities in the world, but all the while I yearned for the sea and the sunshine of Italy. Standing before a Friedrich Nerly painting of Venice in the moonlight, the sky breaking just above the column of St.

Mark, I resolved, right then and there, to return. After a few sodden weeks in France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, I came home to Vermont and settled back into the quiet routines of life. I watched the months slip by, as autumn leaves fell and were buried by blankets of soft, white snow.

So now, with the arrival of lilacs and spring irises, it is time to pick up where I once left off, to fulfill a promise, to have an adventure. Airways flight to Rome. I bide the time by recounting the plan for the next seventeen days in my head. Itineraries are complicated affairs, the endpoint of a tug of war between reality and desire.

For all of that to happen in an order that works using public trains and buses, this particular Monday night happens to be Memorial Day. I find myself enjoying her company, and before long dinner is served and stowed, the cabin lights are dimmed, and passengers are queuing at the restrooms in preparation for bed. Next, I meet up with a driver from Rome Cabs and embark on a brief and uneventful journey into the city, where I check into a small, single room at the Hotel Hosianum Palace , on a quaint side street near Piazza Venezia, shower and change clothes, and call home.

All the while, my mind has been occupied by these mundane tasks, by the small necessities that come with long distance travel, and by a series of familiar associations. It is comforting to remember the airport terminal and the location of the ATM machine, and I grin when see the hotel lobby again, looking much as it did when I left two years ago.

I have been in a transitional state—somewhere between coming and going—but now, as I make my way out onto the street and down Via delle Botteghe Oscure, the stress of logistics begins to loosen, and for the first time I start to absorb my surroundings. As I walk in search of a cappuccino , my ears catch the strains of two musicians who are playing for loose change under a shrine to the Virgin Mary.

For a moment I lean against the metal railing that surrounds Largo di Argentina and peer down to see a half dozen stray cats, each stretched lazily upon ancient steps and foundation stones, warmed by the midday sun. It is here that the sights and sounds and smells of Rome remind me of something I read about the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. I depend on these things for life; for in the smoke of cities, and the tumult of human kind and the chilling fogs and rains in our own country I can hardly be said to live.

For a fleeting moment, I think of Vermont and its long, grey winters, but the comparison quickly disappears. For the next 17 days, my life will be here and the very thought of it is intoxicating. The rooms are small and charming, with plush velvet benches and walls lined to the ceiling with works of art in old, mismatched frames. Keats and Byron and Shelley—that trio of English romantic poets—were all patrons here, and it is, perhaps, for that reason, that I feel very much at home.

I wander next up to the Spanish Steps , which look grand and inviting to me, and apparently, to hoards of other tourists as well, because they are congregating here en masse. Today, all is well and the view is glorious. Crowded, but glorious. At the base of the Spanish Steps is a small museum dedicated to Keats and Shelley , and for a temporary escape from the noise outside, I duck in to browse its rooms full of books, manuscripts, and artifacts, and to see the place where Keats died of consumption in at the age of As a result, newspapers have reported outrageously long lines.

Ordinary timed tickets have sold out, as I found when I tried to buy one online weeks ago, so I opt for a Caravaggio Card instead. For a slightly higher cost, I gain priority admission, as well as a free pass for a sightseeing bus that travels to various churches around town where other Caravaggio paintings are on display. The rooms inside are dimly lit, but noisy with the chatter of local school groups, who sit in crowds on the floor before one painting, then the next, listening in half attention to the commentary of their teachers.

For a few Euros, I rent an English audio guide for the exhibit, but soon find myself falling into the same distracted state. The descriptions are dense and academic, as if drawn from an art history lecture, which would normally appeal to me, but here it feels entirely at odds with the drama and raw emotion captured on canvas. Halfway through the chronology, I abandon the headset entirely with no regrets.

With my energy flagging, I leave the museum and wind my way back to the hotel for a welcome rest, and when I head out again later for dinner, the adrenaline of Rome is once again pulsing in my veins. I revisit Piazza Mattei —one of my favorite little squares—and find the sound of water in the tortoise fountain mingling with the lively tune of a nearby accordion. By the time I reach Piazza Campo Marzio, the sun has nearly set and my legs have given out at last. I crumble into an outdoor table and chair at Ristorante Boccondivino and dine well on a caprese salad and Veal Saltimbocca.

Exhaustion will come, and soon. This is what the man at the front desk tells me. Standing there comfortably in a short sleeve shirt, I beg to disagree, grumpy from lack of sleep, but he is unmoved by my protestations. This morning, however, a sign posted in the elevator has directed me to a room in the basement that is utterly devoid of natural light.

I find this puzzling. When I awoke in my little room and opened the window I was greeted by a warm breeze and a bright, blue sky. And yet here I am, eating my bacon and eggs sequestered underground. Inasmuch as I love Italy and her people, it is very clear that we each have a different notion of what constitutes inclement weather, and I have been overruled.

The crowd is thick and heavy, so I decide to watch and wait from Piazza di San Marco, in a copse of trees just opposite the massive white marble wedding cake known as the Vittorio Emanuele II monument. When I stand on tip toes I can see precise lines of military men in plumed hats ascending the steps. I lift my camera and through the zoom lens catch a glimpse of Silvio Berlusconi and Giorgio Napolitano laying a wreath at the tomb of the unknown soldier. An Italian flag furls in the breeze high overhead.

When I visited Rome in , I had to catch a train to Florence on the morning of June 2nd, so the festivities were nothing more than an obstacle on the way to Termini Station. This time around, I am determined to experience it all. There is a momentary lull that follows. I try to navigate up and around the barricades to Via dei Fori Imperiali, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Colosseum , but the weight of the crowd is making me uncomfortable, as are the lit cigarettes that people feel compelled to hold low at their sides despite close quarters.

I retreat back to Piazza di San Marco and remain there for the duration of the parade. As regiments and brigades stream past in vivid hues, I find myself among some equally colorful people. The phone rings. Again, it rings. Directly in front of me is a young couple who are doing three things that annoy me greatly.

Second, even though this Romeo has the manner of an Ashley Wilkes , he has the roving hands of Rhett Butler , which is, shall we say, distracting. When her storage card gives out midway through, I smile in silent revenge. That is, until her free hand allows her to light a cigarette. And finally, there is the man behind me.

But no. Not at all. I follow them to the horizon with my camera and in seconds they are gone. As the crowd disperses, I make my way past the Pantheon to Piazza Navona. I grab a mortadella sandwich from a small shop nearby and eat it in the square. Afterwards, I start to search for the nearest Open bus stop, which is only vaguely suggested on the map I received with my Caravaggio card.

The red double-decker busses are easy to spot in traffic, but following them is a chore. When I snag one at last, I climb up to the top deck, lean back, and ride for the duration, past St. Somewhere I read that there are more churches in Rome. I visited four on my first trip, so that even with another three under my belt, I have at least to go. There is a young man from Korea dining solo nearby and he comes over to ask for help with the menu when he sees I have a book of food translations.

I chat, too, for a bit with an American family of four and enjoy overhearing snatches of their conversation. Their son and daughter are excited to be here, exploring a new culture in a foreign land, and their enthusiasm for new things is contagious. After dinner, I walk to the Ponte Garibaldi to call my nephew to wish him a happy 19th birthday, and to gaze one last time at the dome of St. On the way back to my hotel, my eye is drawn to some stenciled graffiti on the side of a building.

Graffiti is hardly a novelty in Rome. Time and circumstance change, of course. When Swaim was here in , the citizens of Rome had just voted to become part of a unified Italy —an historical event best remembered on Republic Day, of all days. At just 75 Euros a night, the hotel is a bargain, even if my room does resemble a s college dorm room with its white furniture and floral bedspread.

I open the doors to the balcony and look down the street to the right, towards the train station, which serves as a major railway hub, and then left past the piazza towards the historic center of town. Arezzo is a real city, with real Italians passing by on the sidewalks below. For the first time, I have wandered outside of the tourist corridor that connects the venerable triumvirate of Rome, Florence, and Venice. I am striking out on my own, and as usual my stomach leads the way.

Just as I arrive at Piazza San Francesco I stumble into Gastronomia Il Cervo and walk through the door to the delight of a jovial man behind the counter. His English is poor and my Italian is worse, but the essentials of communication are achieved with a smile. He recommends a spicy pasta made from stale bread, a warm and hearty choice on a chilly day, and I enjoy a bowl of it immensely in the dining room upstairs, ending the meal with a cappuccino.

Feeling fortified, with umbrella in hand I venture back out onto the quiet streets and spend the afternoon lazily wandering from church to church. There is a beautiful vaulted ceiling lined with frescoes, some stunning medieval stained glass by the famed Frenchman, Guglielmo de Marcillat, and a charming, if unassuming, portrait of Mary Magdalene by Piero della Francesca.

I pop a coin into the light box and stand back to appreciate the effect, watching the figures glow on a ground of gold paint high over the crypt at the end of a long spare nave, under a ceiling of thick wooden beams. They direct me past a velvet rope and I savor the space, turning round and round to follow the visual story of the wood that was ultimately used to create the cross on which Christ was crucified.

My eyes search for a place to begin. By now, after several summers spent tramping across Europe, I am familiar with the form. Frescoes like this are made up of distinct scenes that can be read much like a medieval comic strip. It is later felled by King Solomon and its wood used to bridge a stream. When the Queen of Sheba attempts to traverse the bridge, she has a vision in which she sees Christ killed on a cross made from its beams.

The wood is buried, but later found and it fulfills its fate. Centuries later, on orders from the Emperor Constantine, the relic is discovered among the three crosses of Cavalry and its identity restored. As I open the door to leave the basilica, I reach for my umbrella expecting rain, but I am greeted instead by a bright blue sky. The storm has passed, and all of Arezzo is reflecting in the puddles it left behind.

In walking down Corso Italia and its side streets, I now find myself doing much the same. Along the way, I stop at Cremi for a dish of artisanal gelato —a scoop of orange with lime and one of coconut. Its bright, refreshing taste suits both the change of weather and my buoyant mood. I walk further down to San Agostino in time to hear the church bells toll the top of the hour, and then I turn back to the hotel to rest before dinner. Come Saturday, the sloping pavement will be covered by rows of antiques stands for the monthly Fiera Antiquaria , but for now the view is peaceful and serene, a jigsaw of stone and stucco buildings, each decorated with colorful coats of arms.

I expect tourist fare, so I am stunned when a chain of delectable dishes make their way out of the kitchen, all delivered with warmth and grace by wait staff that treat me like family. I order a bowl of Ribollita to start. It is a Tuscan specialty I have longed to try, a soup made with bread and vegetables.

But a small plate of appetizers arrives first, unbidden. I order a fresh plate of asparagus ravioli, but later decline dessert, only to find a trio of pastries brought to my table anyway, followed by a cream pudding. When the check arrives at last, I thank the waiter for what has been my best meal in Italy, ever.

It is a prize hard won, given the fine lunch I had in Siena two years ago, and the beautiful plate of gnocchi I once ate in Rome. I peer at it cautiously and then wrinkle my brow. I have been charged for the Ribollita, the ravioli, and the wine, but for nothing more.

The rest, it seems, was kindness. I grab my tripod and snap a few pictures of Piazza Grande, floodlit beneath a cobalt sky, and on the walk back to the hotel, I think again about Henry James. In years to come, he would look back and write fondly of the things that populated his Italian Hours. Exhausted, I lean back into bed and close my eyes, knowing that someday I will, too.

There is a fine selection of pastries, breads, cereals, and fruit laid out on long buffet tables, and for coffee there is an imposing automated machine. Ideally, I would like a cappuccino , but I am not sure how best to achieve this.

I press a button and I am comforted by a whirring sound that spits espresso into my cup, but when the steamed milk is dispensed, it comes from an entirely different spout, far to the left. By the time I realize this and shift my position, much of the milk has drained away, and the rest has slopped over the side into the saucer below.

Feeling embarrassed, I decide to make the best of it and carry it back to my table. The waitress minding the buffet has noticed my plight and she takes pity on me. A moment later she emerges from the bar holding an absolutely perfect cup of cappuccino. As she watches me, I take long sip, allowing the aroma of the coffee to fill my nostrils.

The people in Arezzo are nice. There is no other way of saying it, although it hardly seems sufficient. They are nice, and I like it here. I like it very much. The hour and a half goes by in the blink of an eye. At the station in Assisi, I buy a ticket for a bus that will take me to the old town at the top of the hill and ride it all the way up to Piazza Matteotti. The day is young and the town has a sleepy quality, with shopkeepers relaxing by open doorways crammed with religious souvenirs—laminated prayer cards, rosary beads, crucifixes, and rows upon rows of St.

Francis statuettes dressed in identical brown tunics, cinched at the waist. I approach the basilica from the east, along Via San Francesco, where it sits at the end of a long green lawn on which hedges form the letters PAX, the Latin word for peace. Outside the entrance to the upper church, I rent an audio guide and then walk into a bright space that is, through the conscientious efforts of the guards, surprisingly quiet, despite a steady stream of pilgrims.

I can see an apse and transcept at the far end, but I am struck most by the frescoes that line the nave, long attributed to Giotto. The paintings reconstruct major events in the life of St. It is painful to recall how close all of this was to destruction after an earthquake struck in , killing four people and sending chunks of the vaulted ceiling to the floor.

After circling the nave thoroughly, I make my way down to the cavernous lower church and to the tomb where St. Francis is buried. I shop for ceramics, stop by an ancient Roman temple long ago converted to the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva , and visit Santa Chiara , a basilica devoted to St.

Clare , who like Francis, founded her own monastic religious order. At PM, I catch the bus in Piazza Matteotti and from the train station below walk across the tracks for one last stop at the church of Santa Maria degli Angeli , which inside houses the tiny Porziuncola , the 9th century chapel that Francis believed he was commanded to repair.

Peace and goodwill. It strikes me as a sentiment that is easier to maintain when preaching to the birds. On the train on the way back to Arezzo, a friendly Australian named Serena takes the seat next to mine. She is a lawyer on a fourteen month break who has chosen to travel the world and we chat amiably until we reach her stop at Passignano.

Back in town, on a side street near Piazza Grande, I decide to grab dinner at Trattoria Il Portale where the owner, a balding man with a surly disposition, seems not to understand my request for a table. I sit for a while and read from a book on Giotto I bought in Assisi. Afterwards, I revisit Cremi for a cup of nutella mousse and yogurt gelato and savor it—and the day—all the way back to the hotel in the dark. Directly below me is Piazza Guido Monaco, a small octagonal park named for the Benedictine monk who invented musical notation.

Beyond, an assortment of stone towers dot the landscape, including that of Santa Maria della Pieve, but the overall effect is a mixture old and new, owing to the fact that much of Arezzo was bombed heavily in the war, especially here near the railway station.

Today, the city has risen from the rubble and rebuilt itself around its surviving landmarks, and when I see the cathedral perched high on the hill in the distance, the miracle of its survival makes me smile. There are chairs and tables and wrought iron beds, stacks of books and prints and gilded picture frames, porcelain figurines and ceramic bowls. I fall in love with a pair of 19th century paintings of the Ponte Vecchio in Florence and a beautiful landscape by Pier-Antonio Gariazzo, but in the end seize upon a small and far more affordable pair of modern paintings, each depicting people browsing an Italian antiques market, just as I have done all morning.

Whether art imitates life, or life imitates art, I head back to the hotel thrilled with the purchase. I sit back and relax at a small table by the side of the street with a gorgeous plate of cured meats, bruschetta, and pecorino cheese before me, as well as a glass of chilled prosecco.

Half of the Palazzo Comunale is wrapped in scaffolding, which is a bit of a disappointment, but the town itself is not. It has a romantic, easy charm and the hours slip by gently on the mind, if not the body, for Cortona is a hill town indeed, and on either side of Via Nazionale, there are alleys and stairways that branch off into breath-robbing inclines.

But mainly, I just walk, as far as my legs will take me, out along the walls for another sweeping view of Lake Trasimene and the Val di Chiana , all the way back to the shade of the Parterre gardens. I sink back into the seat and enjoy chatting with a young Korean student living in Florence, whose name is Yun-Mi, but who asks that I call her Stella, which she says is her English name. She is as amiable a traveling companion as I could hope for, and her facility with languages impresses me deeply, and not only because she is far more capable than I in confirming our route with the driver.

Back in Arezzo, a deep fatigue has started to set in. My legs are aching, and yet my stomach is growling like mad. From the bus stop in the piazza, I head up Via Guido Monaco to a kabob shop and order a sandwich and a can of Coca-Cola to go. I slump back to the hotel feeling guilty. After all, I should be dining on classic Tuscan fare—a steaming bowl of Acquacotta , or a juicy Chianina steak—but alas, what I crave most is sleep.

The day itself, which honors the Eucharist, is an important one in predominantly Catholic countries such as Italy, but the celebrations here extend far beyond church services. Over the weekend, many towns hold an infiorata in which flower petals are arranged into art, creating stunning street mosaics that last mere hours. Spello , a tiny town near Assisi , has one of the most famous of these festivals, and I had wanted to go, but it conflicts with the parade in Orvieto, and in the end, I decided to attend the latter instead.

And so here I am, waiting for the funicular to take me to the town at the top of the hill. According to tradition, a religious miracle occurred here in When a priest on a pilgrimage to Rome stopped at a church in nearby Bolsena to celebrate mass, he is said to have witnessed the Host bleeding. Once each year, the relic is taken through the streets of the city in a lengthy procession that includes hundreds of men, women, and children in medieval costume.

The parade is already under way. I approach the cathedral from behind and slip along the barricades into a doorway along Via del Duomo, near the piazza. There are waves of flags, banners, and shields with various coats of arms, knights and squires dressed in richly embroidered cloth, priests releasing incense from brass thuribles, and soldiers in plumed helmets and chainmail, armed with spears, crossbows and halberds.

From their breastplates to their buckles, the attention to detail is a marvel, like a legend come to life off the pages of a book, and I think of Robin Hood or the Knights of the Round Table. The people lining the streets grow quiet and bow their heads in respect, many making the Sign of the Cross. An old woman leaning out of a window overhead applauds.

Round and round they go, from Piazza del Popolo through the streets to the duomo and back. Once the service inside of the cathedral begins, the audio is conveyed on loud speakers to the crowd outside. The Italian that is spoken is lost to me, but the music—a mixture of sung hymns and traditional organ—most definitely is not. The Torre del Moro is my first stop of the afternoon, for its panoramic view, that blessedly comes with an elevator.

Yet the highlight for me is the Chapel of St. John Altarpiece in Bruges, on a portal of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and so on—so the writhing, naked bodies come as no surprise. But there is something fantastical here, something animated, that appeals to me and creates beauty out of misery and torment. In some rooms there are rows of small recessed holes in the walls.

When Anita asks us to speculate on their use and purpose, we offer a variety of guesses. Some think the niches were used to store olive oil, others as a kiln for ceramics, and even a World War II bomb shelter. They were, she said, carved to create nests for breeding pigeons.

As we make our way back up towards daylight, I have a decision to make. Should I stay? I decide against it, and head back towards the funicular for one last stop at St. On the way back, I realize that I forgot to validate my ticket before boarding the train. I panic, remembering the stories I had read about the fines that are imposed.

The conductor never comes through the car to collect tickets anyway. Tired when I arrive, but grateful for my good fortune, I return to the same kebob shop along Via Guido Monaco and order a falafel to go. Just before I fall into bed, I remember the uncharacteristically harsh words Henry James wrote about Orvieto when he visited in the s. And I mean it truly. In planning my itinerary months ago, I saw my time here as a convenient and inexpensive home base—a way of squeezing a few extra days out of the budget—but it has far exceeded my expectations.

The clerk pauses in his paperwork, looks up, and furrows his brow. After a short cab ride, I find myself back in the welcome arms of the Hotel Davanzati. I first visited Florence in the summer of and have the warmest possible memories of the place and of family that manages it.

Before long, my things are stowed away in the same charming room, and I have been briefed on the latest trends in local gelato. Grom , it seems, is very much in favor. There is an urban metabolism that pulses with possibility. I feel energized and find myself walking quickly, remembering that I have but a short time here.

I am devoting the day to loose ends, to a list of things I had wanted to do two years ago. There is, it seems, never enough time in Florence. Because it closes early, my first stop is the Bargello museum , housed in the imposing Palazzo del Popolo, a former barracks and prison. The fortress is impressive in itself. Inside, there is furniture and tapestries and some Majolica ware, but the real specialty is sculpture. Completed in the s, it was the first freestanding male nude to be cast since antiquity.

Florence, of course, is better known for a very different David —a more mature and heroic one, carved in marble by Michelangelo. Tourists line up in droves to see it at the Accademia across town, and they stand proudly by a copy of it for pictures in Piazza della Signoria.

Even on a busy weekday at the height of tourist season, the museum is nearly empty. I like a change occasionally. Say no more… I never felt so fervently thankful, so soothed, so tranquil, so filled with a blessed peace, as I did yesterday when I learnt that Michael Angelo was dead. He depicts David as a youth, more accurate to the biblical tale, but the pose is jarringly effeminate, with one hand resting on a hip that bends at the knee.

I wonder what Twain would have to say about that? I order the numero otto —pork with pecorino cheese—and watch as a steady stream of college students crowd the doorway. Next, I take Tommaso at his word and pay homage to Grom near Piazza del Duomo, where I get a dish of raspberry and lemon gelato for dessert, and eat it on the steps of the cathedral. I walk back to Piazza della Signoria and join the security queue to enter the Palazzo Vecchio.

I wander next through a series of connected public rooms, where every square inch of the walls and ceilings are covered by Renaissance art, some of which depict scenes of Florence that are wholly recognizable today. The bridge was a beautiful one, with three graceful elliptic arches, but in the closing days of World War II, it was spitefully bombed by the Germans, along with every other bridge in Florence, save the Ponte Vecchio.

The statues collapsed into the Arno, and while the remains were put back on the newly reconstructed bridge after the war, the head of Primavera was missing and long thought stolen by soldiers during the liberation. I am right on time for my appointment. In the end, despite the restrictions—the need for advance reservations, and a limit of just 15 minutes to view the art—my visit in the Brancacci chapel is well worth the effort, especially given the quality of the multimedia presentation beforehand.

In the only sour note of the afternoon, a French tour group joins my time slot, and despite the usual admonitions for silence and respect, the guide talks loudly the entire time, instructing those with her to stand in the center of the small space, where they remain for the duration, crowding everyone else out. Afterwards, several of us try to talk to the guard to protest.

I decide to duck back to the hotel to change out of my sweaty clothes before dinner and to post a few pictures to Flickr for friends and family back home. When I arrive, Happy Hour is underway at the Davanzati, so I have a glass of prosecco beside me as I connect to the internet on my netbook. I simply agree and close the lid.

I nod and he flirts endlessly, insisting on taking my picture. Eventually, the waiter comes by, frowns, and sends him packing back to the kitchen, to my grave disappointment. I dine well on some hearty Tuscan fare—white beans with sage, and a plate of Pappardelle al Cinghiale , or wide ribbon noodles with wild boar sauce.

Sitting nearby is a couple from Florida, celebrating their 13th wedding anniversary. In eating early, and snapping pictures, and in brimming over with enthusiasm for Italy as we talk, we are—the three of us—the spitting image of the American tourist, although hopefully not as hapless and uncouth as those Twain depicted in his narrative. The night is still young when I leave my Florida friends.

The air is cooling at last, and the change in temperature makes for a pleasant stroll. A classical guitarist from Poland, named Piotr Tomaszewski , is playing on the Ponte Vecchio to an appreciative crowd. The tondi depict infants in swaddling clothes lying on a blue wheel—a wheel which actually existed until the lateth century, allowing mothers to leave their unwanted children anonymously by rotating them into the hospital interior on the equivalent of a Lazy Susan.

By the time I make my way back to Piazza della Signoria for the third and final time, night has fallen. Floodlights have kicked on and the tower and stonework of the Palazzo Vecchio stand stark against the sapphire sky. Fabrizio, at least, says that it is. And so we exhaust ourselves in stifling heat, trying to see it all in the time that we have.

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We awarded points for each selection — 10 points for a first place pick, nine points for a second place pick, and so on.

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Filmai visa seimai nemokami torentai I need to top up the minutes on my SIM card. Some art is much more real than some life, I mean. Alfred Prufrock by T. But as she develops a new sense of self and independence, she is forced to grapple with life as an outsider, a servant, and a woman of color in a country obsessed with race yet blind to history. I wander next through a series of connected click here rooms, where every square inch of the walls and ceilings are covered by Renaissance art, some of which depict scenes of Florence that are wholly recognizable today. Its blustering, bumfuzzled antihero is Ignatius J.
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