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Italian Letters, Vols. I and II The History of the Count de St. Julian   By: (1756-1836)

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Italian Letters, Vols. I and II: The History of the Count de St. Julian by William Godwin is an engaging and thought-provoking novel that takes readers on a captivating journey through 18th-century Italy. With its rich historical backdrop and well-crafted characters, this book expertly combines elements of romance, adventure, and political intrigue.

The story revolves around the protagonist, Count de St. Julian, a young and ambitious nobleman who embarks on a quest to discover his true identity and purpose in life. Set against the backdrop of a turbulent period in Italian history, the book skillfully weaves together real historical events and fictional narratives, bringing the past to life in a vivid and compelling manner.

One of the book's greatest strengths lies in its detailed and evocative portrayal of the Italian landscape and culture. William Godwin's vivid descriptions effortlessly transport readers to bustling streets, opulent palaces, and serene countryside vistas, immersing them in the sights, sounds, and smells of Italy. Furthermore, the author's extensive research is evident in the nuanced depiction of the social and political intricacies of the time, offering readers a true sense of the era's complexities.

Godwin's character development is equally impressive, with the Count de St. Julian being both relatable and empathetic. As he navigates his way through treacherous relationships, personal dilemmas, and conflicting loyalties, readers are afforded a glimpse into the mind and heart of a multifaceted protagonist. St. Julian's personal growth and transformation throughout the narrative make him a genuinely compelling and memorable character.

In terms of pacing, Italian Letters strikes a satisfying balance between action and introspection. The narrative unfolds gradually, allowing readers to savor each moment and appreciate the author's meticulous attention to detail. Godwin weaves together a tapestry of secrecy, betrayal, and romance, keeping readers intrigued and invested in the outcome until the very last page.

If there is one criticism to be made, it is that the abundance of historical and philosophical references in the text may require some prior knowledge on the part of readers. While this may not detract significantly from the overall enjoyment of the novel, a basic understanding of Italian history and Enlightenment philosophy would undoubtedly enhance the reading experience.

In conclusion, Italian Letters, Vols. I and II: The History of the Count de St. Julian by William Godwin is a triumph in historical fiction that will captivate readers with its compelling story, richly detailed setting, and well-drawn characters. Through its exploration of identity, love, and the tumultuous political landscape of 18th-century Italy, this novel leaves a lasting impression. Whether you are a fan of historical fiction or simply seeking a captivating tale, Italian Letters is a must-read.

First Page:



The History of the Count de St. Julian



Edited and with an Introduction by BURTON R. POLLIN [Blank Page] Italian Letters

Volume I

Letter I

The Count de St. Julian to the Marquis of Pescara


My dear lord,

It is not in conformity to those modes which fashion prescribes, that I am desirous to express to you my most sincere condolence upon the death of your worthy father. I know too well the temper of my Rinaldo to imagine, that his accession to a splendid fortune and a venerable title can fill his heart with levity, or make him forget the obligations he owed to so generous and indulgent a parent. It is not the form of sorrow that clouds his countenance. I see the honest tear of unaffected grief starting from his eye. It is not the voice of flattery, that can render him callous to the most virtuous and respectable feelings that can inform the human breast.

I remember, my lord, with the most unmingled pleasure, how fondly you used to dwell upon those instances of paternal kindness that you experienced almost before you knew yourself. I have heard you describe with how benevolent an anxiety the instructions of a father were always communicated, and with what rapture he dwelt upon the early discoveries of that elevated and generous character, by which my friend is so eminently distinguished... Continue reading book >>

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