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The Stones of Florence by Mary McCarthy

The Stones of Florence (1959)

by Mary McCarthy

Other authors: Evelyn Hoffer (Photographer)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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436436,373 (3.45)20



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A classic, from a difficult but brilliant writer of a work I have read in parts, but only now in its whole. ( )
  JayLivernois | Nov 6, 2017 |
This book examines the historical significance of the arts in Florence, Italy. The city’s painting, sculpture, architecture, and literature, as well as the artists who created them, are all described. It’s Italy, so religion and politics are also addressed.

The description of this book sounded great, and I really wanted to like it. The writing and the actual content, however, were not good. There was very little organization, and we seemed to jump from topic to topic and back again randomly. In addition, the author wrote in a distinctly conversational style and didn’t pay much attention to grammar, punctuation, and clarity. She also assumed that her reader was as intimately acquainted with Florence as she was, so she didn’t bother to explain much of what she talked about. I’ve even been to Florence, and I had a hard time following her, so I can’t imagine what someone who has never been to Italy would think. Finally, she didn’t cite any sources or make any distinctions between what was factually true and what was just myth or legend, so I have no idea which pieces of information I can trust as valid. These four major problems meant that I got almost nothing out of the book because even when I was able to figure out what she was talking about, I still didn’t trust the author as a creditable authority on the topic. In hindsight, I probably should have given up on this book after the first chapter, but it was relatively short and every once in a while an insightful gem would pop up. ( )
  AmandaL. | Jan 16, 2016 |
A little dry in places but interesting all the same. Recommend it. ( )
  Harrod | Aug 11, 2011 |
Mary McCarthy didn’t just love Florence, she truly knew it. The good, the bad, the ugly, the downright sad, she observed it all, and The Stones of Florence is her report on the city. The book is not for the faint of heart, as it is as complicated as the history of the city itself. There is no seemingly obvious structure, with history and art intermingled throughout the book. Each chapter has a major theme, such as how Florence is not tourist-friendly, the sculpture, the paintings, the architecture. But she seems to meander in her chapters, ostensibly without a goal in mind, other than to present the city as she saw it. Since the book was written in the 1950s, I suspect that some of what she saw might be different over half a century later. The Stones of Florence is not a travel guide, a history lesson, or a discussion of Florentine art. Other books must be consulted for that information. Instead, it is an essay on the city, written by a perceptive spectator who appreciated the beauty of what she saw. I don’t know if I will see the same things in Florence that she did. However, I suspect that I will return to the book upon our return from the city. Only time will tell. ( )
2 vote RcCarol | Mar 13, 2008 |
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» Add other authors (5 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mary McCarthyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Hoffer, EvelynPhotographersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Toth, IngridTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0156027631, Paperback)

It becomes evident from the first page of The Stones of Florence that Mary McCarthy loves her subject. Yet hers is the steady love of a long acquaintance, an affection that has deepened from mere infatuation to a steady, clear-eyed regard. In this witty tribute to Florence, Mary McCarthy explores the city's past and present, in the process offering up a tour that covers everything from a description of oil painting to the remarkable history behind Florence's many towers. The Stones of Florence is ideal for reading on the plane ride to Italy, but it's also perfect for armchair travelers, art lovers, and students of the Renaissance.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:58 -0400)

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A solid tribute to the city of Florence and its people.

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