Venice Triumphant: The Horizons of a Myth

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JHU Press, Mar 23, 2005 - History - 424 pages

Perhaps more than in any other city, Venice has been shaped by its environment. The lagoon on which it was built isolated the city's inhabitants from mainland Europe, forcing them to look seaward for their survival and to establish a maritime empire that generated incalculable wealth, making Venice the envy of Renaissance Europe. In Venice Triumphant, Elisabeth Crouzet-Pavan provides a rich, multilayered history of Venice from Roman times to the sixteenth century. Instead of employing a rigidly chronological framework, she looks at the history of Venice thematically, focusing on the relationship between the city and its unique physical milieu in a way that emphasizes complexity and continuity.

Central to Crouzet-Pavan's discussion is her concept of l'imaginaire, literally translated as "the imaginary" and here meaning the many symbolic terms Venetians created to describe and understand the peculiar space they inhabited and, by extension, themselves. One key example of l'imaginaire is Venetians' use of the term "the continent" to refer, somewhat dismissively, to Italy, Germany, and other lands beyond the lagoon in order to emphasize their own distinctive maritime identity. As Crouzet-Pavan shows, this sense of exceptionalism impacts every aspect of Venetian history: its art and architecture; its involvement with mainland politics; its commercial, civic, and political institutions; and the shape of daily life in its homes, alleys, and courtyards. Elegantly translated by Lydia G. Cochrane, Venice Triumphant offers a bold new perspective on the world's most beautiful—and remarkable—city.


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Venice triumphant: the horizons of a myth

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Crouzet-Pavan (medieval history, Sorbonne) has adopted a novel approach to retelling a story that has been told many times: she sets out to relate the history of Venice by examining the spaces that ... Read full review


A City Born in the Water i
A City Wed to the Sea
The Lion and the Land
Scenes of Daily Life
The State in Motion
The People of the City

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About the author (2005)

Elisabeth Crouzet-Pavan is a professor of medieval history at the Sorbonne. Her other books are Sopra le acque salse: Espaces, pouvoir et société à Venise a la fin du Moyen Âge (1992); La Mort lente de Torcello: Histoire d'une cité disparue (1994); Venise: Une invention de la ville, XIIIe-XVe siècle (1997); and Enfers et paradis: L'Italie de Dante et de Giotto (2001). Venice Triumphant, originally published in French in 1999, is her first book to be translated into English. Lydia G. Cochrane has translated three previous books for Johns Hopkins: On the Edge of the Cliff by Roger Chartier (1996), The Color of Melancholy by Jacqueline Cerquiglini-Toulet (1997), and History of Suicide by Georges Minois (1999). Her other translations include Alain Boureau's The Lord's First Night (1998) and The Myth of Pope Joan (2001), and Renzo Dubbini's Geography of the Gaze (2002).

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