By James H. Johnson
The full city is disguised, declared a French vacationer of eighteenth-century Venice. And, certainly, maskers of all ranks--nobles, clergy, imposters, seducers, con men--could be stumbled on blending at each point of Venetian society. Even a pious nun donned a masks and male clothes for her liaison with the libertine Casanova. In Venice Incognito, James H. Johnson bargains a lively research of protecting during this carnival-loving urban. He attracts on a wealth of fabric to discover the realm view of maskers, either in the course of and out of doors of carnival, and reconstructs their common sense: masking the face in public was once a uniquely Venetian reaction to 1 of the main inflexible type hierarchies in eu heritage. This shiny account is going past universal perspectives that overlaying was once approximately forgetting the earlier and minding the foundation of enjoyment to provide clean perception into the ancient building of identification.
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Extra info for Venice incognito: masks in the serene republic
Everyone is free to follow every kind of debauchery. ” Marriage is mocked, Goudar continues, ﬁdelity nonexistent, and the only known love illicit. In the gambling dens, servants learn to steal and the young discover wantonness. ”42 The view of Venetian carnival as a time outside of time, when common mores were suspended and identities put in ﬂux, was—and is—powerfully attractive. For connoisseurs of pleasure, it announced a moment when society’s artiﬁcial rules gave way to the truths of Nature by way of the senses.
In a letter to his mother, the Englishman Joseph Spence expressed horror at having seen one such couple during carnival. A ﬂeshy man dressed as a nursemaid suckled a youth in swaddling clothes. When Spence and a companion stared in disbelief, the boy spewed a mouthful of milk at them. ”28 Contemporaries describe what they saw and heard in the darkened rooms of these cafés: gnaghe pressed tightly together, snatches of lewd 22 | The Carnival of Venice jokes and insults, rumors of sodomy. Gnaghe gave impromptu performances of songs or scenes from the theater.
The events New World | 15 of the season were partly scripted and partly spontaneous, blending the ritual of centuries with improvisation. With its overlapping traditions, carnival in Venice played on several registers at once, blending violence, high hilarity, and solemn ceremony. Travelers described a topsy-turvy world, where the plebs and patricians exchanged roles, men dressed as women and women as men, and the powers that be were mocked. Behind the mask commoners were said to mix freely with nobles, women with men, and foreigners with the locals.
Venice incognito: masks in the serene republic by James H. Johnson