The Scarlet City: A Novel of Sixteenth-Century Italy

The Scarlet City: A Novel of Sixteenth-Century Italy

by Hella S. Haasse HAASSE
     
 

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Although he bears one of the most notorious names in all of Italy, Giovanni Borgia doesn't know his parentage. Hella Haasse uses the Italian Wars as a backdrop for Giovanni's agonizing quest for his identity. Set against the backdrop of the Italian wars, this novel seeks to unravel the puzzle of Giovanni Borgia's true identity. Machiavelli, Vittoria Colonna,…  See more details below

Overview

Although he bears one of the most notorious names in all of Italy, Giovanni Borgia doesn't know his parentage. Hella Haasse uses the Italian Wars as a backdrop for Giovanni's agonizing quest for his identity. Set against the backdrop of the Italian wars, this novel seeks to unravel the puzzle of Giovanni Borgia's true identity. Machiavelli, Vittoria Colonna, Michelangelo, the Borgias and the Medici are some of the characters who inhabit the secretive and dangerous world of sixteenthcentury Rome.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Haasse once again serves up a historical page-turner..." — Kirkus Reviews

"A brilliant picture of an uncertain age..." — Library Journal

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This frustrating historical novel, first published in Holland in 1952, opaquely treats the early 16th century: the machinations of papal and imperial forces have divided all of Italy into scheming factions, and mercenary soldiers gather to sack Rome. Haasse ( In a Dark Wood Wandering ) chooses a nonlinear approach: various historical figures alternately narrate a series of complicated events. A bastard bearing the Borgia name diarizes his fruitless search for the identity of his parents; Niccolo Machiavelli and Francesco Guicciardini exchange letters; among the other literati heard from are Pietro Aretino and Vittoria Colonna. This structure bleeds the narrative of its intrinsic drama: critical episodes invariably take place offstage, characters enter and exit abruptly, and the single-minded concerns of the individual protagonists overshadow the central action. Those who don't know much about this thorny patch of history will be thoroughly adrift; on the other hand, anyone familiar with even a snippet of the works of the figures incarnated here will chafe at Haasse's shallow and simplistic interpretations. 50,000 first printing; BOMC and History Book Club alternates. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Against the turbulent backdrop of the Italian Wars (1494-1559) Haasse traces the lives and struggles of some of Italy's most famous citizens--Michelangelo Buonarroti, Niccolo Machiavelli, Vittoria Colonna--in chapters interspersed with the diary of soldier/adventurer Giovanni Borgia. Though raised in the Borgia retinue, Giovanni is uncertain of his true parentage and travels from one rival family to another seeking the key to his identity. Fear and mistrust abound, however, and the truth eludes him. As leaders war, intrigue, and shift alliances, the turmoil in Italy is reflected in each of the characters as they seek meaning in their lives. Like Italy itself, they can hope for no solution: at best they succeed in identifying the opposing forces that war within them. A brilliant picture of an uncertain age by the author of In a Dark Wood Wandering (LJ 9/1/89). BOMC and History Book Club selections. --Cynthia Johnson Whealler, Cary Memorial Lib., Lexington, Mass.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780897333726
Publisher:
Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
Publication date:
08/28/2005
Pages:
368
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.76(d)

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Meet the Author


Hella S. Haasse has written 17 novels as well as poetry, plays and essays, and has received many honors and awards including the Netherlands State Award for Literature. Her books have been translated into English, French, German, Swedish, Italian, Hungarian, Serbo-Croatian and Welsh.

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