The Grand Tour in Venice - Page 54



THE GRAND TOUR IN VENICE
The palace provided inspiration for both The
Aspern Papers and The Wings of the Dove. A few
years later James returned to the palazzo as a
guest of Isabella Stewart Gardner and had to
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53
spend the night in the library because there
were no spare bedrooms (fig. 29). Here he
describes the experience to Mrs Curtis:
Dear Mrs Curtis,
I cam e hith er two days ago and Mrs J.L.G.
has kindly put a bed for m e in this divine
old library-wh ere I am fain to pass th e
livelong day. Have you ever lived th ere?
If you haven’t, if you haven’t gazed upward
from your couch, in th e rosy dawn, or during
th e postprandial siesta, at th e m edallions
and arabesqu es of th e ceiling, permit m e to
say that you don’t know th e Barbaro. Let
m e add that I am not h ere in wantonness or
disorder-but simply because th e little lady’s
oth er boarders are located elsewh ere. I am so
far from complaining that I wish I could
stay h ere for ever...
I believe I am to go to Asolo for a day
or two next week-and I confess I have a
dread of exchanging this marble hall for th e
top of a stable.
Fig. 29 Interior of the Library
at Palazzo Barbaro with the
bed slept in by Henry James,
Boston, Isabella Stewart
Gardner Museum.
THE GRAND TOUR IN VENICE

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