Like basically all college courses my course in Italy has a reading list. There are four books on the list: one is a guidebook to the area we’ll be in, one is a book on Renaissance Florence and two Italian classics from the Renaissance period that we’ll be studying.
The guide book is called Tuscany, Umbria and the Marches. To tell the truth, I haven’t bought this book. From the reviews on Amazon it seems like a well recommended book, but I’m only going to read it during the trip and that too probably sporadically. Since there are going to be about 20 other people on the trip (about half of whom I already know) I’m going to be borrowing it whenever I decide to look something up.
The art book is called Renaissance Florence: The Invention of a New Art and is the most expensive of the lot. But that’s understandable considering there are a number of high quality pictures spread throughout the book. This book I have bought, partially because I like books that are well made and put together such as this one. I haven’t read or seriously looked through it yet but I am looking forward to it.
The two classics are Boccacio’s Decameron and Dante’s Inferno, the first part of his Divine Comedy. The actual books are written in Italian and we’re going to be reading English translations. The chief translator for both of them is Mark Musa and they are both supposed to be the best translations available. I’m half-way through the introduction to the Inferno (which itself is 52 pages long and written by Musa). The introduction is basically a summary of Dante’s life, times and works and there is a lot of information packed into those pages. Though it’s well written, I do wish that it was broken into sections so that I had some idea of where the text was going. Oh well, I guess the introduction isn’t the most important part of a book so I shouldn’t read too much into it.
I’m looking forward to reading the books but I’m not the biggest fan of the classics, I’m more into books with an involved plotline moving at a good pace. However, I think that the books will offer insights in to the culture and ideas of the era which will be useful when I’m actually studying the art and trying to understand the artists themselves. We’re leaving on Wednesday evening and I hope to have at least one of the classics completed before then. Unfortunately I’ll be busy moving and packing until then so that’s not going to be very easy to do, but I’m certainly going to try.