Pictures from Italy: Dickens, Rome, and the Eternal City of the Mind

  • Lawrence Frank


Imagine that an explorer arrives in a little-known region where his interest is aroused by an expanse of ruins, with remains of walls, fragments of columns, and tablets with half-effaced and unreadable inscriptions. He may content himself with inspecting what lies exposed to view, with questioning the inhabitants — perhaps semi-barbaric people — who live in the vicinity, about what tradition tells them of the history and meaning of these archaeological remains, and with noting down what they tell him — and he may then proceed on his journey. But he may act differently. He may have brought picks, shovels and spades with him, and he may set the inhabitants to work with these implements. Together with them he may start upon the ruins, clear away the rubbish, and, beginning from the visible remains, uncover what is buried. If his work is crowned with success, the discoveries are self-explanatory: the ruined walls are part of the ramparts of a palace or a treasure-house; the fragments of columns can be filled out into a temple; the numerous inscriptions, which, by good luck, may be bilingual, reveal an alphabet and a language, and, when they have been deciphered and translated, yield undreamed-of information about the events of the remote past, to commemorate which the monuments were built.


Figurative Language Standard Edition Popular Account Historical Discipline Double Consciousness 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1999

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  • Lawrence Frank

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