Urbs/passion/politics: Venice in selected works of Ruskin and Pound
This thesis argues that the representations of Venice found in the works of John Ruskin and Ezra Pound can only fully be understood in the light of historico-political contexts such as the Austrian occupation of Venice, the rise of revolutionary Nationalism and Fascist uses of Venetian history. In contrast to critical approaches that concentrate on the construction of Venice as aestheticised fantasy, this project draws on a range of archival materials to place these two modern literary visions of Venice within their respective historical ‘moments’. The first chapter examines a range of cultural representations of Venice in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Using examples from Ernest Hemingway, Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Thomas Mann, it argues against the prevailing myth of the ‘Dream’ of Venice and proposes that literary and other representations of the city should be understood in relation to specific historical events and political anxieties. The second chapter focuses on Ruskin and demonstrates how his text The Stones of Venice can be seen as a counter to the nineteenth-century myth of the ‘dark legend’ of Venice as propagated by historians like Pierre Daru. The third chapter then demonstrates how Ruskin’s Venetian works can be situated within a spectrum of European Nationalist concerns, particularly examining how the 1848 Venice revolution and its aftermath creates an atmosphere of political tension in The Stones of Venice. The following two chapters on Ezra Pound place Pound’s Venetian engagement against the backdrop of early twentieth-century Italian Nationalism. Beginning by discussing the cultural uses of Venetian history under the Fascist regime, these chapters show how Pound’s engagement with the idea of a ‘renewed’ Venice proposed by Nationalist writers such as D’Annunzio, along with Pound’s own Fascist commitment, provide contexts for his visions of Venice in the Cantos. Thus the representations of the city in both writers are seen to be crucially connected to the political concerns of Nationalism and the Nationalistic use of Venetian history.
- Theses