Mario Praz
David R. Godine, Boston, MA, 2010; originally published 1958, Italian, English
Nonfiction, Interior Design; Nonfiction, Art and Cultural History
Paperback, 368 pages
ISBN: 9781567923995
Suggested Retail Price: $17.95

From the Publisher. Mario Praz (1896–1982) was among the great scholar/critics of the last century. His studies of iconography and 17th-century art remain unsurpassed and indispensable. His most famous work, The Romantic Agony, examines the themes of sexuality and morbidity that permeated so much late-18th and 19th-century literature.

But The House of Life comes as close to his autobiography as anything we are likely to encounter, and it is a quirky and magical book. In simplest terms, it is a house tour, but Praz's Roman apartment was no ordinary house—it was a wunderkammer, a house of wonders, rooms replete with objets d’art and sculpture, walls hung with paintings and prints, bureaus overflowing with postcards and ephemera. And Praz is no ordinary guide; he leads you, the reader, through each room lecturing on the objects therein. What emerge are his passions, his immense erudition, his insatiable curiosity, his undeniable amiability, his infectious enthusiasm. What might have been a predictable didactic exercise is transformed and expanded into a multi-layered disquisition on the nature of art, on the challenge of investigation and discovery, on the idiosyncracies of personalities, on the serendipitous way in which art and the objects we choose to surround us tell stories that go far beyond their purely physical attributes. Early on, Edmund Wilson recognized this book as a masterpiece, its author as something of a genius. Translated by Angus Davidson.

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Stanley Abercrombie
An art historian’s autobiography written in the form of a tour through his own house on Rome’s Via Giulia, seeing its furnishings, art, and objects, remembering their sources and significance for him. As a result we review his whole life. Of more importance, we are poignantly reminded of how meaningful and communicative are the inanimate objects we choose to live with.
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