Monday, 31 August 2015

The memory of evil, Roberto Costantini

Finally I could read the third and last book in the series about commissario Michele Balistreri. 

In the two previous books we saw how he grew up in Tripoli, when Libia was still an Italian colony, but also how the death of his mother that was never solved crippled his life. Anger, frustration and violence were the main ingredients of his life and his job as a policeinspector never mattered to him. 

Until the case in 1982 that went horribly wrong. After that we saw a Michele Balistreri that changed his life and wanted to do better.

The events of the last book, the case of the Invisible man took their toll and Michele is tired of life. He does not want to do anything anymore. He goes into the office everyday but does as little as possible and works hard to make clear to everyone they do not need to come to him for help.

When a young woman and her daughter are killed on a cruiseship, he is definitely not interested, but then it becomes clear the case is linked to previous cases and even the death of his mother. Michele does not want anybody to stop him now and he will find out the truth this time.

The memory of evil is put together very well, it jumps around in the time between 1967, 1970 and 2011. The previous cases from the first books are told again, so for us readers it is no problem in following the different storylines. And this time you get more information and from other perspectives.

The character of Michele Balistreri is now rounded, he finally gets the answers he has been looking for his entire life and he must find a new way. He also most try to reconcile the angry young man he was and the things he did. He is not a good man, but definitely not an evil man and hopefully he now finally has something to give new meaning to life.

Very well done is the way how the history of Libia and the current events are tied into the story, giving more depth to the characters.
That the final solution of who was who (not in Libia but in the US) was a bit far-fetched I gladly forgive Roberto Costantini.
The memory of evil is a perfect last book in and excellent and special trilogy. Well done!

The other two books in the series: 

Original Italian title: Il male non dimentica
Published in 2014
An English translation will be available in September 2015

Friday, 28 August 2015

Inspirational art: Saint Francis

Sometimes when you see a painting it really moves you.
I saw this painting, Saint Francis and an angel by Orazio Gentileschi, in the Palazzo Barbarini in Rome. It struck me immediately, so much I even had tears in my eyes.

In this painting the Angel gently holds Saint Francis, and you see the Saint's face, he is worn out and exhausted. I could only hope the Angel really came for Saint Francis, he needed it so much.

This painting is from 1611. There is an earlier version that hangs in the Prado in Spain, but I prefer this one.

Monday, 24 August 2015

The story of a new name, Elena Ferrante

Being friends and staying friends can be hard sometimes, especially when the circumstances between friends can differ. Feelings of jealousy and guilt, needing eachother and pushing the other away can all become part of the friendship, as it is in the case of Elena and Lila

The story of a new name picks up at the exact point where My brilliant friend ended and after only a few pages all the names are familiar again.
  
The brilliant Lila is married to Stefano, but her marriage will not be the escape she so desperately hoped for. She had hoped to get away from her childhood that broke all her ambitions and possibilities. 

Only where fiancé Stefano was willing to please Lila, the husband Stefano wants Lila to act like his wife and to obey all the rules that come with her new last name.

The marriage is doomed from the beginning and Lila tries everything she can to escape, but with little effect.

Elena has her own problems. She studies for her final exams, but she feels like a fraud. She is intelligent, but does not have the brilliancy of Lila’s mind. Speaking Italian instead of the dialect does not come easy to her and although she learns how to hold conversations about politics and the situation in the world, deep in her heart she knows she does not have the cultural background to really participate.

Her studies set her apart from the neighbourhood and her family, her parents never ask her what she studies. Not because they are not interested, but because they are afraid they will not understand the answer.
Elena gets an unexpected success when her novel is published, but realizes that Lila is also at the basis for that. The two girls cannot break apart, no matter how different their lives have become.

The complex psychology of the friendship between Lila and Elena is told in detail, and this is very well done.

Lila helps Elena to pass her exams, but at the same time she is jealous of Elena and tries to make her feel incompetent. Elena feels that she is less than Lila and feels guilty over the freedom she still has and Lila will never have again. On the other hand she also blames Lila for certain things and the attentions Lila gets from Nino Sarratore, the boy Elena has been in love with for years, does not help the situation.

It is Elena who tell the story many years later and reads about the events she did not witness in the papers Lila gave to her. This allows Elena to explain things and this gives an extra dimension to the story, one that is very well done.

In total there are four books in this series. The third book has already been translated into English, the fourth book will come soon.

My review of My brilliant friend can be found HERE

Original Italian title: Storia del nuovo cognome

Published in 2012

Friday, 21 August 2015

Museum Centrale Montemartini

There are several great and famous museums in Rome. Often, there are many other tourists and sometimes you even have to stand in line for hours to get in.
There are however some museums that are not so well known, but are well worth a visit.

One of these museum is the Centrale Montemartini.

This used to be a powerstation, and was opened in 1912, named after the engineer, Giovanni Montemartini. Its huge turbines provided the electricity for a large part of Rome. During the sixties, it was no longer in working and there were plans to convert the powerstation into a museum.

In 1997 a large part of the collection from the Capitoline Museums was moved to the Centrale Montemartini. The bonus is the absolutely amazing combination of classical statues and inudstrial design.
The engines are also art. 
When you start from tubestation Piramide, it is about 20 minutes by foot.
Whenever you are in Rome next, do not forget this museum, it is a wonderful museum!

Monday, 17 August 2015

Caravaggio, Andrew Graham-Dixon

He was a painter who did not have students and who had no workshop. He was a painter who never made drawings before a painting. He was a painter with almost no official education, who had to learn the trade himself. He was a painter who went against fashion and stayed true to himself.

Michaelangelo Merisi was born in 1571 in the little town of Caravaggio. His parents were not poor and not rich, but had connections to the powerful Colonna family; his mothers sisters was wet-nurse to their children. The countess herself always paid much attention to the family and little Michaelangelo.  

Growing up in Milano and after being an apprentice to a third-rate painter, Michaelangelo went to Rome in the hope he could make it there.

The first years were hard, but he finally got the patronage of cardinal Del Monte and later of cardinal Mattei. They managed to get several commissions for him, but not all of his work was received well.

He painted the saints, Mary and Jesus like ordinary people, surrounded by ordinary people and the poor of Rome loved his work. They recognized themselves in the  paintings of Michaelangelo da Caravaggio.
The officials of the art-academy and of the Church were not so happy with this way of painting.
 
The Madonna of Loreto.
Pilgrims with dirty feet? Shameful!
They accused him of only being able to paint what he saw, and that he was not capable of doing what an artist should do in those days; elevate a subject to an ideal. Portraying the Madonna with dirty feet or as an ordinary woman was unheard of.

Despite the fact that his works were often denied, Caravaggio kept to his own style, he did not follow the fashion by painting elevated and busy baroque-paintings full of angels.
 
Death of the Virgin by Caravaggio.
This painting was denied, because the Madonna
looked too much like a real and really dead woman

This was the painting that replaced it.
Many, many angels.
Carlo Saraceni. 
He was not a happy man. He had a short temper and was in court many times for fights and other violent behavior. The snide remarks of his rivals hurt him deeply and he immediately retaliated when his honor was called into question. In 1606 he killed a man in a duel and was forced to leave Rome.

Caravaggio fled to Naples, a city full of poor people, where his innovative way of painting made a deep impression. He hoped his reputation would be mended in Rome and went to Malta to become a Knight in the order of St. John. He thought that when he would be a Knight, he would be able to look all his enemies straight into their eyes.

He managed to become a Knight of Malta, but soon messed things up for himself with his short temper. He was kicked out of the Order and fled to Sicily, where he spend a couple of years.
Finally, in 1610, he died far too soon, on his way back to Rome. He was only thirty-eight years old.
 
Self portrait
In Rome I bought a very good and interesting biography about this very special artist. I knew the paintings of Caravaggio and like them very much, so I was very happy to find this book so I could learn more about him. 

Andrew Graham-Dixon gives us all the different aspects of Caravaggio, not only of his life, but also of his works. He explains what the meaning behind the paintings is, explains where Caravaggio got his inspirations and how we can interpret several things. I liked how many moments in his life, found their way back into his paintings.

Michaelangelo da Caravaggio was nota n easy man and although there were many who saw his genius, there were also many who disliked his way of painting.

But in the end it is Caravaggio who has had the most success of all the Baroque painters.
His way of bringing a scene back to the essence, back to the most dramatic moment and his way of using light and dark to give emphasis and how he let ordinary people recognize themselves in his works, has had its influence on painters in the centuries after him and even film-directors nowadays.

Caravaggio’s paintings are still admired today. They manage to speak to us and touch us in a way the paintings of most other painter never can.
  
Full title: Caravaggio, a life sacred and profane
Published in 2011

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Tomorrow is back to normal

Well tomorrow it is back to business as usual. My Summer vacation is over (rainy last day) and tomorrow normal life will start again.

I had a great Summer, with some serious ups and downs. Horrible and sad days when I had to put my lovely Corrado to sleep, but spending time in Rome was amazing as always.
These past two weeks I shared my photographs of Rome with you, but tomorrow the normal program will begin here again as well.

A bookreview on Monday, a photograph on Wednesday and a general article on Friday. I hope you enjoyed the photographs, but I also hope you will enjoy my normal posts.

I'll see you tomorrow! (I have a great biography of one of the most amazing painters ever lined up for you, worth a read!)

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Rome, photo 8

The 'English' cemitary, or rather, the cemitary for non-catholic foreigners.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Rome, photo 6

A little lizzard on the Forum Romanum. This little guy just fought a battle with another lizzard, but this one came out victorious.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Rome, photo 1

Flowers on the Forum Romanum
I was fortunate enough to spend a couple of days in Rome again, this Summer. In the coming two weeks I'll be sharing photographs of Rome, to show you the beauty of this eternal city.
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