Monday, January 31, 2011

Memoir of Voices

Satyr Square: A Year, a Life in Rome
Satyr Square: A Year, a Life 
in Rome 

"Poets' voices. I had come to feel, were too easy to hear, which, oddly enough, meant that their voices were being drowned out by too many professors -- my colleagues -- speaking on their behalf. I came to Rome to hear voices hoarse from much longer silence, the voices of material objects, statues of marble and bronze that had lived the public and private life of ancient Rome," (pp 35-36)

This is a memoir of voices, both that of the author and that of the antiquities and that of the  Renaissance as well as writers and poets, like Shakespeare. All the voices come together to form the story of a year spent in Rome. But there are also the tastes, for this is as much a culinary journey as an aesthetic travelogue. The combination may prove too much for some readers, but I was at home with the lonely man, Leonard Barkan, at the center and his voices and tastes and experiences were seldom less than interesting. His passions suggested new ideas and thinkers to me and presented his take on those with whom I was already acquainted. All of this within a travelogue with fragments of Italy presented -- fragments and images of places that I enjoyed having shared the author's erudite and humorous views from his year in Rome.

Satyr Square by Leonard Barkan. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York. 2006

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