Mark Twain: “The Innocents Abroad” – a view through the keyhole (1)

My latest interests drove me to hop-reading a novel by Mark Twain with the title The Innocents Abroad. 

I don’t usually read a book from cover to cover because my patience runs dry ever so often with almost every activity I get to start nowadays. This one managed to keep me still for hours an end.

I let you enjoy a short specimen of this writing which, at times,  made me laugh against my will. This is about the day spent in Rome as part of his travels that made the subject of the book:

In this connection I wish to say one word about Michael Angelo
Buonarotti. I used to worship the mighty genius of Michael Angelo–that
man who was great in poetry, painting, sculpture, architecture–great in
every thing he undertook. But I do not want Michael Angelo for
breakfast–for luncheon–for dinner–for tea–for supper–for between
meals. I like a change, occasionally. In Genoa, he designed every
thing; in Milan he or his pupils designed every thing; he designed the
Lake of Como; in Padua, Verona, Venice, Bologna, who did we ever hear of,
from guides, but Michael Angelo? In Florence, he painted every thing,
designed every thing, nearly, and what he did not design he used to sit
on a favorite stone and look at, and they showed us the stone. In Pisa
he designed every thing but the old shot-tower, and they would have
attributed that to him if it had not been so awfully out of the
perpendicular. He designed the piers of Leghorn and the custom house
regulations of Civita Vecchia. But, here–here it is frightful. He
designed St. Peter’s; he designed the Pope; he designed the Pantheon, the
uniform of the Pope’s soldiers, the Tiber, the Vatican, the Coliseum, the
Capitol, the Tarpeian Rock, the Barberini Palace, St. John Lateran, the
Campagna, the Appian Way, the Seven Hills, the Baths of Caracalla, the
Claudian Aqueduct, the Cloaca Maxima–the eternal bore designed the
Eternal City, and unless all men and books do lie, he painted every thing
in it! Dan said the other day to the guide, “Enough, enough, enough!
Say no more! Lump the whole thing! say that the Creator made Italy from
designs by Michael Angelo!”
I never felt so fervently thankful, so soothed, so tranquil, so filled
with a blessed peace, as I did yesterday when I learned that Michael
Angelo was dead.

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