A passeggiata, or evening walk, around the perimeter of Ortigia reveals many notable structures and stories. Start from the Parco Letterario Elio Vittorini, on the eastern side, and head clockwise. As waves crash against the rocks below the sea wall, you’ll pass crenelated lookout points and the chiseled facade of the 17th-century Chiesa dello Spirito Santo, before finding yourself in the palm-planted gardens of the 13th-century Castello Maniace.
Founded by Greeks around 734 B.C., Ithe southeastern Sicilian city that Cicero called “the greatest and most beautiful of all Grecian cities” achieved a size and status in the ancient world that made it a rival of major powers like Athens and Carthage. Takeovers and makeovers by Romans, Byzantines, North Africans, Normans and others left their marks as well, influencing everything from religious art to the region’s distinctive savory-sweet-sour cooking style. Much of the ancient city has crumbled since Cicero’s day, though the ruins can still be explored in Syracuse’s celebrated archaeological park and museum. But the main attraction today is the historical center of Syracuse: Ortigia island, a maze of narrow streets, ornate Baroque churches and centuries-old palazzi.
Established in 1831, the Gorham Manufacturing Company adeptly coupled art and industry, rising to become an industry leader of stylistic and technological achievement in America and around the world. It produced public presentation pieces and one-of-a-kind showstoppers for important occasions, as well as tableware for everyday use. Its works trace a narrative arc not only of great design but also of American ambitions. In this volume, insightful essays are accompanied by gorgeous new photography of splendid silver pieces along with a wealth of archival images, design drawings, casting patterns, and company records that reveal a rich heritage of a giant in decorative arts and silver manufacturing.
Produced in collaboration with the RISD Museum, which has the world’s most significant collection of Gorham silver, this major new book casts new light on more than 120 years of grand aesthetic styles in silver, innovative industrial practices, and American social and cultural norms.
Quichotte opens with a brilliant parody of Cervantes’s first sentence: ‘There once lived, at a series of temporary addresses across the United States of America, a travelling man of Indian origin, advancing years, and retreating mental powers.’ The temporary addresses are a fine revision of Cervantes’s pretending not to remember the name of the place where Quixote lived – literally, he says he doesn’t want to remember. But in spite of this and many other echoes, Quichotte is not all that close to the original Don Quixote in style or mood, and doesn’t seek to be. The leading character chooses his pseudonym because a recording of Massenet’s opera Don Quichotte was his father’s favourite LP, and echoes of the musical Man of La Mancha, with the obligatory ‘impossible dream’, are all over the place.
Cervantes tells us that Don Quixote lost his mind because he read too many romances of chivalry, not all nonsense, as many critics assume, but not models of realism either; yet there are indications, as the novel develops, that Quixote has learned to play at madness, like Hamlet, because it seems to work, because a functioning pretence of knighthood is better than staying at home. Quichotte largely follows the romantic reading of the knight as idealist, whose madness consists of his nobility of spirit and his refusal to believe that the pragmatically possible is an acceptable limit to human behaviour. Rushdie is both mocking and celebrating this posture, and his Quichotte is genuinely ridiculous as well as heroic. He has other sources too, he tells us in his acknowledgments, and both Pinocchio and The Conference of the Birds play a considerable role in the plot. It’s good to see Jiminy Cricket speaking Italian.
Cornwall. Less Agatha Christie and more Poldark, you’ll stumble upon secluded fishermens’ villages and dilapidated copper mines perched on gustcliffs. The sea is never far. Seagulls’ cries echo wherever you go.
And sheep decide to block your way on some lonesome road outside an unpronouncable town. Of course, there’s fish and chips (too much fish and chips). It’s pure bliss.