THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF BENVENUTO CELLINI by Alfred--Ed. Tamarin

THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF BENVENUTO CELLINI

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KIRKUS REVIEW

To the extent that this is the most decorative and the only illustrated edition of the Cellini autobiography available, it has a definite potential; to the extent that it is considerably abridged, adapted--and diluted--that potential is limited to young people content with an approximation. In the Tamarin version of the Symonds translation Cellini, after a tangle with some ""enemies,"" notes: ""But I went off and found sanctuary in the cell of a good friar, who assured me of safety."" Here is the original: ""I went off in the direction of Santa Maria Novella, and stumbling up against Fra Alessio Strozzi, whom by the way I did not know, I entreated this good friar for the love of God to save my life, since I had committed a great fault. He told me to have no fear; for had I done every sin in the world, I was yet in perfect safety in his little cell."" The one gets him to safety and leads to the next development; the other delineates the man and the milieu with a certain bite. The qualities that led the autobiography to be compared to a picaresque novel are largely lost although the ""plot"" remains fundamentally intact; missing also are the footnotes in other editions that clarify and sometimes correct Cellini; and there is no account of incidents omitted from the autobiography or of events following its abrupt terminus. The illustrations, however, depict not only his work and that of his contemporaries but also, in effect, the history of his time, enlarged by the captions. Indeed, the book scores primarily as historical biography--presumably its intent; as a self-portrait and as literature it is only a shade of its former self.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1969
Publisher: Macmillan