Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Room With a View by E.M. Forster (1908)

Reading A Room With A View on the way to Florence is an amazing experience, such a treat.   I think only someone who has read and loved the book (and the loved the film) so much can truly understand what it's like to walk the footsteps of Lucy Honeychurch, Charlotte Bartlett, Eleanor Lavish, Reverends Beebe and Eager, and the Emersons.   I've now seen violets and cornflowers in Tuscany, and yes, they are beautiful.  I've walked across the Ponte Vecchio, seen Santa Maria Novella, and apparently was near enough to Piazza della Signoria to take pictures of the Palazzo Vecchio but didn't realize it.  Italy is kind of like that.  Oh well, next time I will talk through it and pretend to be Lucy Honeychurch.    Our room was across the road from the Arno, and yes, we had a view (wasn't all that beautiful though, but oh well).

George Emerson is still one of the sexiest men in literature.

"Life is easy to chronicle but bewildering to practice."  A quote that registered for the first time.

No better description of Florence in literature, at least in English, than this: “It was pleasant to wake up in Florence, to open the eyes upon a bright bare room, with a floor of red tiles which look clean though they are not; with a painted ceiling whereon pink griffins and blue amorini sport in a forest of yellow violins and bassoons. It was pleasant, too, to fling wide the windows, pinching the fingers in unfamiliar fastenings, to lean out into sunshine with beautiful hills and trees and marble churches opposite, and, close below, Arno, gurgling against the embankment of the road.”  Really, no matter where we stayed or what we did in Florence, this is the romantic (too romantic?!) image that will be stuck in my head.  No matter that our hotel was built in 1965, and that Vespas and tiny Fiats raced all over the place.  Florence is always A Room With A View.   It's the idea of the modern intertwined with the old.  The entire book is sort of the Renaissance, isn't it?  A rebirth, a re-awakening, a re-discovery of old things, in this case, the old idea that love conquers?  Perhaps.

A Room with a ViewA Room with a View by E.M. Forster
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This should be required reading before visiting Florence; hell, this should just be required reading period.  A tremendously beautiful, romantic book about fate and truth and love, the awesome power of the muddles to ruin everything, Renaissance and spring.  And it's quite funny too.  Charlotte Bartlett is one of the best comedic characters in literature, perfectly rendered, down to her passive aggressive coughs and boiler problems.  Lucy Honeychurch is always Pre-Raphaelite in my head; and George Emerson is just sexy.  A rare classic that I've re-read many times, growing better and better with each read.


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