Read De scharlaken stad by Hella S. Haasse Free Online
Book Title: De scharlaken stad|
The author of the book: Hella S. Haasse
Edition: Rainbow Pockets
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 9.47 MB
City - Country: No data
Date of issue: 2009
ISBN 13: 9789041707963
Loaded: 2670 times
Reader ratings: 6.2
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This novel is set against the backdrop of the sixteenth century Italian wars. The story starts in 1525 (although there are flashbacks to earlier years), and ends just after the Sack of Rome in 1527. It is told from the point of view of several people, but the main protagonist is Giovanni Borgia who does not know who his parents are, and whose life is shaped by his insecurities.
The famous artist Michelangelo is portrayed as a tortured genius, totally absorbed in his work. His wish is "that he would be released from a task which no longer inspired him..." He slogs away, trying to juggle tasks and meet deadlines. As he looks at his frescoes in the Sistine chapel, he sees: "From the vaulted ceiling and the arches above the windows, they stared down at him: prophets and sybils, titans, angel children on supporting columns - his creatures, born out of the inner chaos which he himself did not dare to probe. He saw in them the embodiment of his own doubt, despair, bitterness and fear."
Vittoria was marchioness of Pescara, and was later to become a close friend of Michelangelo. She was regarded as the ideal wife, and seen as part of an ideal marriage. However, the truth is often quite different to appearances. Vittoria in fact has a complex relationship with her husband, and all is not as it seems.
In this novel we have a Machiavelli who truly cares for the future of his country. We follow his correspondence with his friend, the statesman Francesco Guicciardini in which he expresses his views and ideas for obtaining an ideal state.
Guicciardini is more pragmatic than Machiavelli, and for the most part refutes Machiavelli's ideas on the basis of practicalities.
Aretino is portrayed as a sleazy know-all and gossip, who likes to attach himself to people whom he might be able to manipulate.
Tulia is a courtesan who cares too much about Giovanni Borgia, much to her mother's distress.*
Giovanni Borgia (Infans Romanus)
Last, but most important is Giovanni Borgia. The opening sentence is: "Borgia am I; two, perhaps three times a Borgia. To others, my lineage is a riddle; to me, it's a secret - no, more than a secret - a source of torment." And so we follow the story of Giovanni as he thinks about his youth and tries to solve the mystery of his lineage. Is he the son of Cesare Borgia, or perhaps the brother of Lucrezia Borgia? These are some of the questions he faces as he searches for the truth, his mind flitting from present to past and back again. Finally he learns to accept himself for who and what he is.
Hella Haasse's wonderful descriptions lift this story to four stars. She has a poetic sense and an eye for beauty. She takes different people who don't seem to have any link, and puts them in the same corridor of the Vatican where they see one another by chance; she then gives them each a chapter in which to express their individual thoughts. There is a cameo appearance of Anne Boleyn who meets Giovanni Borgia at the French court, and several other luminaries people these pages.
*Tulia's poetry has been published - see Issicratea's comment below.
Review written in 2014 and edited 2016.
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Read information about the authorHella S. Haasse (1918 - 2011) was born in Batavia, modern-day Jakarta. She moved to the Netherlands after secondary school. In 1945 she debuted with a collection of poems, entitled Stroomversnelling (Momentum). She made her name three years later with the novella given out to mark the Dutch Book Week, Oeroeg (The Black Lake, 1948). As with much of her work, this tale of the friendship between a Dutch and an Indonesian boy has gained the status of a classic in the Netherlands. Titles such as Het woud der verwachting (In a Dark Wood Wandering, 1949), Een nieuwer testament (Threshold of Fire, 1966) and Mevrouw Bentinck of Onverenigbaarheid van karakter (Mrs Bentinck or Irreconcilable in Character, 1978) have been greatly enjoyed by several generations.
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