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In 1860, W. D. Howells, having written a campaign biography of Abraham Lincoln, was rewarded with the job of consul in Venice.
He arrived in Venice in 1862, at the age of twenty-five. For a young nineteenth-century American who had left school when he was nine to earn a living, the hardest part of his sinecure was that he had almost nothing to do. "I dreaded the easily formed habit of receiving a salary for no service performed," he wrote. "I reminded myself that, soon or late, I must go back to the old fashion of earning money, and that it had better be sooner than later."
And so -- "though for some reasons it was the saddest and strangest thing in the world to do" -- Howells left Venice. While he was on the whole happy to do so, Howells said upon his departure, "Never had the city seemed so dream-like and unreal as in this light of farewell."
Venetian Life flows from the enchantment, the magical improbability, of the years Howells spent in that magnificent city dining with the rich, mingling with the humble, and reporting on it all with a uniquely American wit and curiosity.
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Table of Contents
|I.||Venice in Venice||1|
|II.||Arrival and First Days in Venice||15|
|III.||The Winter in Venice||25|
|IV.||Comincia Far Caldo||37|
|V.||Opera and Theaters||49|
|VI.||Venetian Dinners and Diners||59|
|VII.||Housekeeping in Venice||67|
|VIII.||The Balcony on the Grand Canal||89|
|IX.||A Daybreak Ramble||99|
|XI.||Churches and Pictures||111|
|XII.||Some Islands of the Lagoons||125|
|XIV.||The Ghetto and the Jews of Venice||151|
|XV.||Some Memorable Places||161|
|XIX.||Love-Making and Marrying; Baptisms and Burials||227|
|XX.||Venetian Traits and Characters||243|
|XXII.||Our Last Year in Venice||293|