Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Il Gatto Mumificato


I think I've spelled that right - I don't have a good Italian dictionary!

Still on the theme of writers' lives (as opposed to their books), last Saturday Lucasta Miller wrote interestingly about visiting writers' houses. Virginia Woolf was ambivalent, she says, finding the Bronte's house touching yet vulgarising and detracting from the work, but Miller's own visit to the Wordsworths' house in Somerset added to her understanding of Dorothy.

Some years ago I visited Petrarch's house in Northern Italy. There was a lovely atmosphere, stone floors smoothed by the years to a polish, beautifully tinted rounded leaded panes, an orange grove outside I think, and things in glass display boxes - manuscripts, quill pens, pictures, I think - oh I don't know, I could hardly look at anything but Petrarch's cat: mummified and mounted on the wall! His cat! See, that's what I know about Petrarch now: he loved his cat!! And in spite of all the words I have spilled about writer's books being more important than their lives, that was something I was really glad to know, and the mummy seemed to me touching and not macabre at all!!
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