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Depictions of Conservators
- To: Multiple recipients of list BOOK_ARTS-L <BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Subject: Depictions of Conservators
- From: John Lansingh Bennett <jlb@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Sun, 10 Nov 1996 22:23:25 -0600
- Message-id: <199611110434.UAA23483@SUL-Server-2.Stanford.EDU>
- Sender: "The Book Arts: binding, typography, collecting" <BOOK_ARTS-L@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Several days ago Jon Farley asked about stereotypes of conservators. This
isn't a stereotype, but folks may be interested in Robert Hellenga's novel
The Sixteen Pleasures (Soho Press, NYC, 1994). The flap copy describes it thus:
"Mud angels" is what the Italians call the selfless young foreigners
who come to Florence in 1966 to save the city's priceless art from
the Arno's flooded riverbanks.
Margot Harrington is an American volunteer, an expert at book
conservancy. While struggling to save a waterlogged convent library,
she discovers a fabulous volume of sixteen erotic drawings by Giulio
Romano that accompany sixteen steamy sonnets by Pietro Aretino. When
published more than four centuries earlier, the Vatican had insisted
all copies be destroyed. This one--now unique--volume has survived.
The abbess, with wonderful aplomb, prevails upon Margot to save the
order's finances by selling the magnificently illustrated erotica,
discreetly. Meaning: without the bishop's knowledge.
The young American's other clandestine project is a middle-aged
Italian who is boldly trying radical measures to save endangered
frescoes. She is 29 and available; he, older and married. He shares
her sense of mission and then her bed in this ambrosial story of
spiritual longing and earthly desire.
The novel comes complete with glowing blurbs from Maxine Kumin, John Casey,
Tillie Olsen, and Gail Godwin. I recently heard the author read from this
work, was taken by both (him and it), and checked a copy out of the library.
Eighty pages on, I'm enjoying the novel.
Y'all can tell me whether the depictions of conservators are on the money or no.
John Lansingh Bennett jlb@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Coffee Break Studio jbennett@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
611 South Lynn 217.234.5312 (work)
Champaign, IL 61820 USA 800.252.4121 (within Illinois)
dolce far niente