Venice: History of the Floating City / Edition 1

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This book is a sweeping historical portrait of the floating city of Venice from its foundations to the present day. Joanne M. Ferraro considers Venice's unique construction within an amphibious environment and identifies the Asian, European, and North African exchange networks that made it a vibrant and ethnically diverse Mediterranean cultural center. Incorporating recent scholarly insights, the author discusses key themes related to the city's social, cultural, religious, and environmental history, as well as its politics and economy. A refuge and a pilgrim stop; an international emporium and center of manufacture; a mecca of spectacle, theater, music, gambling, and sexual experimentation; and an artistic and architectural marvel, Venice's allure springs eternal in every phase of the city's fascinating history.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
From its beginnings in the sixth century when fisherman built raised huts above the mud flats, Venice was linked to the powerful Byzantine Empire both politically and culturally. With the Crusades came Venice's tourist industry as foreigners flocked to the city, which increased cultural diversity and allowed Venice to become a major maritime power in the Mediterranean. During the Renaissance, upper-class men were bachelors while women were married off by wealthy widows empowered by their dowries, whose values had greatly inflated in the 16th century. Since the 14th century, Jews had been a crucial part of the Venetian economy while working as pawnbrokers and textile and used goods vendors. In the beginning of the 15th century Venice was both a sea power and an international marketplace, and it quickly became a cultural hub as visitors took notice of its impressive architecture, theater, music, and art by the likes of Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese. Venice's star began to fade, though, and by the 17th century it was no longer an important maritime power or commercial force. Ordinary people, affected significantly by Venice's decreasing power, were forced to live on only the essentials, while wealthy Venetians continued to consume goods and materials at an impressive rate. Venice's decline coincided with the rise of opera, journalism, and tourism, which thrived in the two decades before the Republic fell to Napoleon in 1797. Although the book is marred by awkward writing and the author's attempt to sweep too many centuries into one small space, San Diego State history chair Ferraro (Marriage in Late Renaissance Venice) offers a rich and alluring account of "the floating city." Illus., maps. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
“Here is an essential book for all lovers of Venice. Dr. Ferraro writes not only with encyclopedic knowledge but with deep affection and understanding. She has taught me a lot.” – John Julius Norwich, author of A History of Venice and Paradise of Cities: Venice in the 19th Century

“Summarizing recent research, Joanne Ferraro provides a masterful description of the social and cultural history of Venice, viewed here as a cosmopolitan world city, as well as the floating city of our dreams. It is the most reliable and comprehensive account of the 500-year history of Venice available for this generation of readers.” – Edmund Burke III, University of California, Santa Cruz

“Joanne Ferraro’s new book is the most illuminating synthetic history of Venice in two generations. She depicts a multicultural metropolis inhabited by international merchants as well as artisan heretics, rebel nuns, and feminist writers. Ferraro shows how real people rather than impersonal institutions and abstract forces made history.” – Edward Muir, Northwestern University

“This is an innovative historical reconstruction of the floating city, with fresh perspectives informed by the most up-to-date scholarship. In lively and engaging prose, Ferraro recreates the rich and complex history of Venice before our eyes. Her history of the Venetian Republic will become the standard work for generations to come.” – Margaret F. Rosenthal, University of Southern California

“Ferraro is a master storyteller with a rare ability to make everyday life in the lagoon city come alive, while capturing the magic of Venice within a richly textured historical context. Highly recommended reading for all students and lovers of Venice.” – Patricia Fortini Brown, emeritus, Princeton University

"This is the best book written to date on the Venetian Republic...In the future, when people want to learn about Venice's history, they'll turn to this book first." -Library Journal

"rich and alluring account of the 'floating city.'" -Publishers Weekly

"Recommended." -Choice

"The great merit of Ferraro’s history of Venice is her synthesis and incorporation of much of that material into what is essentially a history of the Republic." -Dennis Romano, Journal of Interdisciplinary History

Library Journal
This is the best book written to date on the Venetian Republic, whose aristocratic government survived with little change for 600 years. It supersedes F.C. Lane's classic Venice: A Maritime Republic (1973), updating research and significantly expanding the range of topics to include such matters as gender relations, social deviancy, and marriage patterns, as well as how Venetians used the arts to advertise their identities. Ferraro (history, San Diego State Univ.; Nefarious Crimes, Contested Justice) brings impeccable credentials to this enterprise, and it pays off. She doesn't ignore separate events in Venice's history, but she rightly focuses on the slow-moving structures of Venetian life. The text boxes throughout address topics ranging from how gondolas were built to the 18th-century passion for chocolate, and playwright Carlo Goldoni's biography. The book is copiously illustrated and has maps, year-by-year chronologies of political and social events and artistic achievements, and a glossary of Venetian terms in addition to a bibliography and index. VERDICT In the future, when people want to learn about Venice's history, they'll turn to this book first.—David Keymer, Modesto CA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521883597
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 8/31/2012
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 300
  • Sales rank: 1,470,369
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 0.93 (d)

Meet the Author

Joanne M. Ferraro is Professor and Chair of History at San Diego State University. She is the author of Family and Public Life in Brescia, 1580–1650: The Foundations of Power in the Venetian State (Cambridge University Press, 1993); Marriage Wars in Late Renaissance Venice (2001), which was awarded best book from the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women and the Helen and Howard R. Marraro Prize in Italian History; and Nefarious Crimes, Contested Justice: Illicit Sex and Infanticide in the Republic of Venice, 1557–1789 (2008).
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Table of Contents

Preface; Chronology of historical events; Chronology of architecture, art, literature, and music; 1. Reconstructing the floating city; 2. The riches of Asia, Europe, and North Africa; 3. A pride of lions; 4. Identities and modes of socialization; 5. Material life; 6. City of myth; 7. The Serenissima's wayward subjects; 8. The baroque stage; 9. Epilogue: the tides of change; Appendices.
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