Pictures from Italy …a review

For the last couple of weeks, I have been juggling Discrete Time Signal Analysis, Power Electronics, and Principles of Microelectronic Devices. When I took breaks from the insanity, I dove into this book, a travelogue by Dickens; his account of travelling in Italy, along with parts of France and Switzerland.

I have always loved Dickens’ style, his slow ways of painting pictures, grim and bleak scenes, and an all-pervading melancholy. Definitely my type of writing! And I have always associated that lilting style with him. I was taken aback by this book!

Not only is it lively and fast paced, it has none of the usual melancholy! In fact, if I hadn’t known who the author was and was told to guess, I would have said “Definitely familiar, but I can’t place him!” The accounts are beautiful, to say the least. He describes nature and architecture with a simplistic grace that is trademark of the language of the greats.

The edition I have is a 200th birthday edition of Tara Books, and the artwork is stupendous! This has been a lovely lovely read. I had forgotten how much I loved Dickens, while I read this, it was like coming up for fresh air. I can’t wait for these exams to get over!

Image

The coloured pages are double folded into the book.

Quote: “Floating down narrow lanes, where carpenters, at work with plane and chisel in their shops, tossed the light shaving straight upon the water, where it lay like weed, or ebbed away before me in a tangled heap. Past open doors, decayed and rotten from long steeping in the wet, through which some scanty patch of vine shone green and bright, making unusual shadows on the pavement with its trembling leaves. Past quays and terraces, where women, gracefully veiled, were passing and repassing, and where idlers were reclining in the sunshine, on flag-stones and on flights of steps. Past bridges, where there were idlers too; loitering and looking over. Below stone balconies, erected at a giddy height, before the loftiest windows of the loftiest houses. Past plots of garden, theatres, shrines, prodigious piles of architecture — Gothic — Saracenic — fanciful with all the fancies of all times and countries. Past buildings that were high, and low, and black, and white, and straight, and crooked; mean and grand, crazy and strong. Twining among a tangled lot of boats and barges, and shooting out at last into a Grand Canal! There, in the errant fancy of my dream, I saw old Shylock passing to and fro upon a bridge, all built upon with shops and humming with the tongues of men; a form I seemed to know for Desdemona’s, leaned down through a latticed blind to pluck a flower. And, in the dream, I thought that Shakespeare’s spirit was abroad upon the water somewhere: stealing through the city.”

~ from the chapter ‘An Italian Dream’
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