Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Along the Arno with Henry James / "... because the river is yellow, and the light is yellow ... "

As I crossed the Ponte Vecchio the other evening, as dusk was approaching, I thought of Henry James' description of the Arno at Florence from Italian Hours (1909):
"And yet forsooth, because the river is yellow, and the light is yellow, and here and there, elsewhere, some mellow mouldering surface, some hint of colour, some accident of atmosphere, takes up the foolish tale and repeats the note—because, in short, it is Florence, it is Italy, and the fond appraiser, the infatuated alien, may have had in his eyes, at birth and afterwards, the micaceous sparkle of brown- stone fronts no more interesting than so much sand-paper, these miserable dwellings, instead of suggesting mental invocations to an enterprising board of health, simply create their own standard of felicity and shamelessly live in it."

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