Welcome to my site!
Here you’ll find information about my writing, teaching and reviewing. I hope the interrelated subjects on these pages will resonate with you: they range from literature, history and creative writing, to why and how different arts engage with each other. Why my passion – why yours, no doubt – for the arts and humanities? Because they nourish us as individuals and societies: their economic impact may defy easy measurement, but that on everyone’s well-being and happiness is immense.
Why do I write? To make sense of the world and to make a – certainly infinitesimal – difference. Every life has its share of joys and sorrows, though their form and timing will vary, resulting in their paradoxical universality and uniqueness. Novels are not ‘useful’ in the way of how-to guides, any more than myth and fairy tale, music or painting are. I dare not provide answers, but merely an individual vision of reality’s complexities. In one of his unsurpassed Six Memos for the Next Millennium, Italo Calvino describes how Perseus avoids being turned to stone, by capturing Medusa’s image indirectly through a mirror. I hope my writing and that of other authors will offer readers thought-provoking perspectives to combine with their own for a fresh and revealing field of vision.
The painting on this page seemed appropriate because of its personal, literary and historical associations. I was born in Brindisi, Italy’s Porta d’Oriente, or ‘Gateway to the East’. This is a view of its harbour, which opens onto the Corfu channel: the Roman columns mark the endpoint of the Appian Way; on the right is the house traditionally said to stand in place of the one where Virgil died; here Caesar tried to stop Pompey and his army; here Emperor Frederick II married Isabella, Queen of Jerusalem; for centuries the city was assailed by a seemingly endless series of foreign conquerors who left their mark, a patchwork of Northern European and Mediterranean cultures. The painting is by Luigi Mayer (1755-1803), an Italian-German artist and close friend of Sir Robert Ainslie, British Ambassador to Turkey from 1776 to 1792. Mayer travelled throughout the Ottoman Empire depicting the landscapes and people, from the Balkans and the Greek Islands to Turkey and Egypt. On the way there, he set sail from Brindisi, as Virgil had done and countless others still do today. Voyages take many forms – I hope this website will be a refreshing stopover on your journeys.
Photo of Luigi Mayer’s View of the Harbour of Brindisi by Valeria Vescina. Copyright, all rights reserved.
Image of The Appian Way and the later Via Appia Traiana by NASA. Reproduced under Public Domain license.
Image of The Port of Brindisi, from The Book of Navigation of Piri Reis from Wikimedia Commons. Reproduced under Public Domain license.