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The definitive book on Venice from medieval times to the Renaissance, seen through the eyes of the Venetians. At the dawn of the second millennium, Venice began to establish control of the upper Adriatic, gaining power and influence. As a great naval power, and an egalitarian society with no inherited aristocracy, it established itself as the capital of trade, wealth and art for the two high centuries of the Renaissance. In LION CITY, Garry Wills, a twice-yearly visitor to Venice, gives us a definitive guide to the cultural and sociological history of this fascinating city. Successfully interweaving armchair travel and definitive history, he begins his tour in the years of the Renaissance when Venice was a new idea, a commercial, non-hereditary state and views the city through the eyes of the Venetians; the ruling classes, bourgeoisie, workers, Jews and clerics. Venice became City of the Lion, both a sea and land empire; a republic and a centre of art and learning, independent of Papal authority and creator of some of the world's masters and masterpieces - Michaelangelo, Bellini and Titian. To understand the true spirit of this formidable city, Wills addresses the 'myth of Venice', that historical romance the city told about itself to prove to the world that it was set apart from ordinary states. This myth is articulated in Venice's art, and through this art, the author explores the heart of the city's identity. A fitting tribute to the unique social design and artistic culture of this fascinating power, Venice:Lion City is an enchanting insight into the Renaissance roots of today's floating city.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780671047641
ISBN-10: 0671047647
Format: Paperback
(233mm x 187mm x 33mm)
Pages: 448
Imprint: Simon & Schuster Ltd
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
Publish Date: 3-Mar-2003
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » Effortlessly displaying his erudition, Garry Willis has created a beguiling mixture of art history, history primer and tourist guidebook. He examines Venice in the 15th and 16th centuries when the city state was at the height of its political, mercantile and artistic powers. In doing so he lets the reader know that the glorious Venice of today is nothing but a slowly sinking shadow of its former self. That said, he is careful to include pictures, sculptures and buildings that can still be seen today. A traveller using this book as his tour guide would be guaranteed a magical experience. Willis describes his approach as 'total history'. He examines politics, religion (in Venice's case a fascinating variant on Catholicism), daily life, military and mercantile activity and gender roles all through the prism of the art created at the time. By concentrating on the extant evidence of the immense creativity that powered Renaissance Venice Willis conjures up the magical reality of a city that seems to rest on the sea. Willis claims that 'Venice is a thing made as no other city is'. Venice's creation by men who built up and strengthened a chain of islands that lay in a soup of surrounding marshes, subsequently pitting their own (and their heirs') ingenuity against the floods and tides intent on its destruction, gives an energy and earned arrogance to Venice itself and to Willis's book. Evelyn Waugh wrote, 'Venice, with all its complexity and variety, is in itself the greatest surviving work of art in the world'. This book proves Waugh's point. (Kirkus UK)


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Author Biography - Garry Wills

Garry Wills is the author of 21 books, including the bestseller Lincoln At Gettysburg (winner of the 1992 Pulitzer Prize). A frequent contributor to many national publications, including the New York Times Magazine and the New York Review Of Books, he is also an adjunct professor of history at Northwestern University. He has been a regular visitor to Venice for 20 years.

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