Book presentation

'Vénitiennes au peigne fin' by Lucien d’Azay

6 June 2024 — 6:30 pm

Thursday 6 June, 6:30pm

Fondazione dell'Albero d'Oro will host French author Lucien d'Azay (1966) at Palazzo Vendramin Grimani to present his book Vénitiennes au peigne fin (Les Belles Lettres, 2024), an 'impersonalised' portrait of Venice through some forty contemporary Venetian women, more or less imaginary.

Vénitiennes au peigne fin
Just as there is a polymorphous and eternal myth of the Parisian woman, the Venetian woman has been an allegorical figure throughout the ages. This is the hypothesis of this book, which presents portraits of Venetian women, both fictional and real, without going so far as to establish a prosopographical nomenclature, as in the Catalogue of Women attributed to Hesiod. The original and intimate relationship that each of these Venetian women has with the city of her birth or adoption makes a singular contribution to its charm.

We escape to a city as if it were a theatre, where we hope to meet the being who personifies it. The fantasy underlying this desire no doubt stems from a purely physical impulse, the desire to belong to a new world through sensuality. It may be that this impulse is amoral and unavowable; I am not saying that it is edifying, but I think that it plays a decisive role in the need that men feel to travel, to reach the destination of their dreams, even if it means settling there, when they could quietly stay at home and content themselves with reading, if only with one hand, ad hoc travelogues.

Sketched sometimes from memory, sometimes on the spot, the portraits I have gathered here are an attempt to illustrate by example the phantasmagoria I have just mentioned. I leave it to the reader, and I hope with pleasure, to decide whether, from these various avatars, an emblematic 'type' of the female fantasy of Venice emerges.

Illustration by Amalia Russiello

Lucien d’Azay

Born in 1966, Lucien d’Azay is a novelist, essayist, translator from English and Italian to French, and a literary critic. He is the author of more than twenty books that blend styles and genres such as biography, travelogue and keepsake book where portraits mingle with personal memories and literary reminiscences. His books include Un Sanctuaire à Skyros (2020) and La Belle Anglaise : vie de « Perdita » Robinson (2022) published by Les Belles Lettres, as well as Dictionnaire insolite de Venise (2012) and Variations sur la Grèce (2023) published by Cosmopole. As a book reviewer, he is a regular contributor to the Revue des Deux Mondes and to Transfuge and Citizen K magazines.

He received the Mottart Award of the Académie Française in 2004 for Tibulle à Corfou (Les Belles Lettres, 2003), the Revue des Deux Mondes Prize in 2012 for Trois excentriques anglais (Les Belles Lettres, 2011) and the Academy Award of the Académie Française in 2020 for Un sanctuaire à Skyros (Les Belles Lettres, 2020).

He commutes most of the time on a diagonal that connects London to Athens through Paris and Venice where he taught French for about fifteen years, until 2010, at the “classic” Marco Polo High School.