"Our technology has outpaced us to the degree that human understanding is no longer at the centre of it." Olivia Sudjic
Posts tagged "Italy"
Innocents uncovered

Innocents uncovered

With its portico designed by Brunelleschi, its decorative tiles from the workshop of Della Robbia, its nine well-proportioned arches, each topped with an elegant tabernacle window, the Ospedale degli Innocenti is one of Florence’s most-scrutinised, most-photographed buildings, often claimed by tour-guides to be the earliest example of Renaissance architecture in the world. But it is...
Where unhappiness ends: Naples beyond Ferrante

Where unhappiness ends: Naples beyond Ferrante

You know you are in Naples when the taxi taking you to the city centre from the tiny local airport seems to be driven by a perfectly amiable madman, dead set on breaking your neck (and his) as he hurtle-bumps his vehicle down the almost vertical, serpentine ribbons that are many of the city streets....
In the shadow of Vesuvius

In the shadow of Vesuvius

My starting point for Hell’s Gate was a desire to tell a story about an actual descent to the underworld, a person venturing into the kingdom of the dead to find someone. Could today’s readers still believe in such a thing, I wondered, and was their thirst for the epic and mysterious strong enough to...
Seduced by utopia

Seduced by utopia

“Now do tell me – what does it feel like to wake in the morning on a Tuscan farm?” Virginia Woolf asked a much younger Iris Origo in 1935. Invited to stay for tea at the Tavistock Square flat above the Hogarth Press, Origo, we may assume, obliged with a beautifully eloquent answer – after...
A total portrait of the artist as an absence

A total portrait of the artist as an absence

Elena Ferrante is traditional in the most radical, boundary-dissolving ways; conventional with subversive fervour and delicately powerful talent. In Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey she proves above all the invincible strength of her authorial translucence, the rock-solid presence of her so-called anonymity, which she invariably corrects as being a determined gesture of absence. The word frantumaglia,...
The noise of ice: Antarctica

The noise of ice: Antarctica

MEN WANTED for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honour and recognition in case of success. Ernest Shackleton expedition advertisement, 1900 One day, in a bookshop in London, I stumbled across a book about Shackleton. I was struck by his character, and his spirit of...
Dreamland

Dreamland

No Picnic on Mount Kenya is neither a war memoir nor the travel log of an exotic mountaineering expedition; neither history pure and unimpeachable, nor a novel where the imagination is given free reign; it is neither biography nor documentary. It is, and explosively, all of the above – a grippingly beguiling tale as well...
Matteo Garrone: Bigger than life

Matteo Garrone: Bigger than life

Matteo Garrone’s latest film, Tale of Tales, is a flamboyantly grisly retelling of three little-known fairy tales collected in the seventeenth century by Neapolitan poet and courtier Giambattista Basile. From the 50 tales in the collection, which includes the earliest – and bawdiest – recorded versions of Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Hansel and Gretel, the...
Knowing my place

Knowing my place

“Ketrin,” my mother-in-law said, “Come over here. You’re good at writing.” My heart started to beat a little quicker, and I felt beads of sweat popping on the back of my neck. I was ashamed. Why would a simple comment like that invoke such an immediate physical reaction? We were at Easter lunch in Naples,...
Erasures

Erasures

Ann Goldstein, the English translator of Elena Ferrante, said in a panel discussion hosted by Rosie Goldsmith at Waterstones Piccadilly this month that she felt “bereft when the last translation was finished.” “The characters,” she felt, “become people we live with.” The same sense of bereavement, of loss of a vital friend or voice, is...