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Cover for Venice Incognito

Venice Incognito

Masks in the Serene Republic

James H. Johnson


List Price: 34.95*
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"The entire town is disguised," declared a French tourist of eighteenth-century Venice. And, indeed, maskers of all ranks—nobles, clergy, imposters, seducers, con men—could be found mixing at every level of Venetian society. Even a pious nun donned a mask and male attire for her liaison with the libertine Casanova. In Venice Incognito, James H. Johnson offers a spirited analysis of masking in this carnival-loving city. He draws on a wealth of material to explore the world view of maskers, both during and outside of carnival, and reconstructs their logic: covering the face in public was a uniquely Venetian response to one of the most rigid class hierarchies in European history. This vivid account goes beyond common views that masking was about forgetting the past and minding the muse of pleasure to offer fresh insight into the historical construction of identity.

Praise For Venice Incognito: Masks in the Serene Republic

“Refreshingly well-written and thought-provoking.”
— Art Newspaper

“Comprehensively researched, insightful reconsideration of the function of masks and masking. . . . Highly recommended.”
— Choice

“Perceptive, gracefully written, and well-illustrated. . . . A vivid introduction to Venetian culture.”
— Peter Burke Emmanuel College, Cambridge University

University of California Press, 9780520294653, 334pp.

Publication Date: January 10, 2017

About the Author

James H. Johnson is Professor of History at Boston University and the author of the award-winning book, Listening in Paris (UC Press).