Sunday, May 4, 2014

Henry James in Venice

My writing parter, Ann, and I take turns sending us each other a daily prompt line.  We use part of a sentence, or in this case a quote. We set our timers for exactly six minutes and let it take us where it will. No re writing allowed, but spelling can be corrected. 

“Thought there are some disagreeable things in Venice, this is nothing so disagreeable as the visitors.’’  Henry James.

That Henry James was such a snob.  It never occurred to him that he was himself a visitor in Venice.  I am sure he was very shy about the fact, although he poses as a European, decidedly British, that he is from the New World, born and bred in American. 

I can just see him posturing in front of a packed salon in the Ca’d’Oro presenting himself and his literary genius to a room full of faithful followers.  Mentally frowning on them but all to eager to collect the attendance receipts at the end of the evening.  He is in sorry need of a new morning coat as his vest and trousers are a little on the ragged side.

He longs to publish his latest serial about, yet again, another poor young woman coming into riches and
Piazza San Marco, Venice
foundering at elegant parties mostly out of the fact that she was never taught polite society manners.

In the morning James takes a stroll from Palazzi Barbaro over to Piazza San Marco to have tea at Caffe Florian, which he thinks is so elegant but in my mind the only place were real tourists hang out to pay outrageous prices.  He watches the parade of daily visitors wander in and out of the Doges Palace and San Marco Basilica, while great flocks of fluttering pigeons scramble over nuts tourists scatter.  The peanut vendors sell out their little bags of nuts, making enough money for them to head to the back street osterias to drink cheap red wine all afternoon.  And there is James a perfect example of a tourist trying to look like a local.  Who does he think he is, anyway?

1 comment: