Sunday, December 13, 2009
Florence, a Delicate Case
92. Florence, a Delicate Case, by David Leavitt
David Leavitt divides his time between Gainesville, Florida, where he teaches, and Florence, Italy, which residence has resulted in this charming little book, part of Bloomsbury's The Writer and the City series.
Leavitt concentrates on the expatriate experience in Florence, particularly the expatriate homosexual experience, even more particularly the expatriate English homosexual experience, in the person of folks like Norman Douglas (author of South Wind), E.M. Forster and Ronald Firbank. He does not entirely neglect the ladies, however, noting that "the English ladies who have gone over to Catholicism . . . may be the loudest presence of all."
Neither a guidebook nor a history book, though there is a touch of each, this book rather provides an atmosphere, a feeling about the city, from the point of view of one who is at one and the same time an insider and an outsider. It's full of delightful gossip, and one gets the sense that, like Alice Longworth Roosevelt, Leavitt thinks that "if you can't say something nice, come sit next to me."
And, if nothing else, reading this book has confirmed me in my desire to visit Florence.