Venice An Inspiration For The Writer

Venice An Inspiration For The Writer



In my last article about writing and Venice, I raised the following question.

How can a​ city so possess a​ writer so that no other place could possibly be a​ proper setting for the events, which must unfold in​ the story? And so, in​ telling you more of​ my own journey through Venice, I continue to​ search for an​ answer. Put another way, the question might be For me, has the city of​ Venice dictated the story of​ a​ Trial of​ one?

In Venice, I was staying in​ the area between San Marco and the Rialto. The darkened streets or​ calles were narrow and arranged in​ a​ devious maze, which, at​ first, appeared rather sinister. But once I realized I was perfectly safe wandering about, I went down the narrowest calles at​ night, without a​ second thought.

The setting was so inspiring as​ to​ send my protagonist in​ the Osgoode Trilogy, Harry Jenkins rushing panic stricken through the narrow calles. in​ this part of​ a​ Trial of​ One, Harry is​ on a​ search for thirty million dollars for his elderly client, Norma Dinnick. And he is​ shadowed every step of​ the way by Garth, the vicious but not too bright, emissary of​ Dr. Robert Hawke, also claimant to​ the millions.

In his hurry, he [Harry] stumbled on broken cobblestone and nearly toppled into the canal. Loud off-key singing and then laughter filled the ever-narrowing passageway. From above, came a​ clatter of​ tins. Suddenly, a​ torrent of​ dirty water poured down not a​ foot away from him. Abruptly, he turned back and, with labored breathing, rushed deeper into another maze of​ twisting alleys. Again his pathway narrowed, then ended abruptly at​ the next doorway. He froze, trapped in​ a​ dead end! to​ his left was the canal. One step and he would be in​ the water! Over his shoulder, he saw the ominous bulk [Garth] not ten yards from him and heard his whistling. Rivulets of​ sweat ran down Harry’s face.

For me, the setting inspired the events. I cannot think of​ a​ better place than Venice to​ create the sense of​ being actually caught in​ a​ labyrinth and the panic, which would ensue. Remember Theseus? He’s the one in​ Greek Mythology who received the thread from Ariadne to​ find his way out of​ the labyrinth after slaying the fearsome minotour. Maybe Harry’s task is​ not so different!

By setting, I do not mean just the physical surroundings. Don’t you think that a​ city could have a​ psychological setting— an​ all-pervasive atmosphere in​ which certain events were bound to​ happen? Perhaps we are coming closer to​ an​ answer to​ the idea of​ a​ city being a​ character in​ a​ novel—even one strong enough to​ drive the plot.

In my wanderings, I found many shop windows filled with brightly colored masks and marionettes, including Pinocchio. Venice is​ the city of​ the Carnevale, a​ fantastic tradition of​ escaping the daily grind. Psychologists would say that this kind of​ Mardi Gras serves as​ a​ release from the persona you must wear each day and is​ thus a​ welcome [and healthful] relief. if​ you have ever worn a​ mask, you know instantly that you may become a​ different person from your daily self. Some would say that a​ hidden being leaps out from the dark side of​ humanity. Others would simply call it​ the true, unfettered soul. So, take your choice.

One of​ the themes in​ the Final Paradox, the second in​ the Osgoode Trilogy, is​ masks and what happens when you wear one. in​ Final Paradox, Peter has a​ lover, Roger an​ antique dealer [sometime drag queen], who collects Aboriginal Masks. Here’s the scene in​ which Peter first tries on the mask.

Peter did not understand why he consented to​ Roger’s lowering the mask over his head. His throat constricted, and he struggled to​ lift the heavy, wooden piece from his shoulders. Roger adjusted the mask. Moments later, Peter felt a​ lightness lifting him up and breezing throughout him. His breathing slowed and deepened. His hands dangled at​ his sides.

Roger led him to​ the mirrors. His voice was languorous and soothing. “See yourself transformed by the power of​ the mask. it​ awakens your true spirit. With masks, we find the ‘other’ within ourselves.”

Energy flowed through Peter. From unknown depths, his anger spurted upward into his consciousness. Always the yes-man for Pappas and all his law partners! Forever trapped under Bronwyn’s thumb. Hiding his shameful desires—Peter was sick of​ the pretence of​ happiness. Trapped in​ his own carefully constructed world, he was now suddenly gasping for air. Quickly, Roger lifted the mask from his shoulders.

But we have come some distance from Venice. So let’s go back.

I wandered toward the Piazza San Marco, which was described by Napoleon, as​ the most beautiful drawing room in​ Europe, for which it​ is​ only fitting that the heavens should serve as​ a​ ceiling.

Here’s another example of​ how much Venice has affected me in​ writing. During my stay, I visited San Marco at​ many different hours of​ the day. But I found it​ most beautiful at​ nightfall, when a​ stillness crept over it​ and sounds of​ cooing pigeons were muffled in​ the distance. Long arcades, cloaked in​ shadow lined the sides of​ the Piazza and mesmerized me. Often I would sit at​ a​ table in​ a​ café on San Marco with a​ cappuccino or​ glass of​ wine. as​ the sun drew low in​ the sky, cascades of​ notes from a​ pianist playing Chopin would drift outward on the square. if​ you sat very still in​ the shadows at​ this hour, you could imagine ghostly figures from the past fleeting by and hear the lilt of​ their quiet conversation.

It is​ that sense which is​ inspiring my next project. You can find a​ short story called Fleeting Moments at​ my site at​ www.authorden.com/maryemartin which I intend to​ expand into novel form. That way, my heart will never have to​ leave Venice.




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