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Travels in Imagination.

Work Title: Travels in Imagination

Work Author(s): Alex Moore


Byline: Alex Moore

Aurora aimed her sunrise-pearled beams at the east portico of San Lorenzo at Naples, Italy, gilding the fourteenth-century church in a halo of awe. The ethereal rays streamed through the clearstory's stained glass, through the images of Mary and Joseph, Moses and Jesus, splashing in a mosaic of prismatic color on the transept floor. This caressing glow during matins highlighted Ellena Rosalba's figure, which exuded an "air of delicacy and grace" as her angelic voice ascended to the vaulting like a chorus of doves. The "sweetness and fine expression of her voice" attracted the attention of Vincentio di Vivaldi, who fancied that the voice "must express all the sensibility of character that the modulation of her tones indicated." Her face, however, was veiled, creating a nimbus of glorious mystery for Vivaldi.

This emotional attraction for Ellena in Ann Radcliff's The Italian is not unlike the frenzied attachment some people feel to certain places. Seth McEvoy in his ForeSight Travel article, "The Privileged Three: Travel Books Fawn Over France, Italy, and Ireland," uses the conceit of an ingenue in romancing the allurement of countries. Enchantment provides the impetus to travel. Seth touches travels in France from "the never-stay-at-home" artist and primitivist Henri Matisse to Gustave Flaubert's back-and-forth bovine-paced travels from his homes in Normandy and Paris; to Venice, Italy's "inbetweenness"---the watery divides of architecture---to Tuscany's delightful Carciofi sott'olio from the restaurant Osteria del Ghiotto; to the lush, mist-scented gardens of the Emerald Isle.

William James's expedition on the Amazon river, Mark Twain's voyages to Bermuda, and Ilya Kabakov's sojourns in space are revealed in Peter Skinner's Almost Missed, "Travels Terrestrial and Cosmic." Peter notes James's anthropophagous fish, Twain's bewildering green, and Kabakov's flights of fortitude.

Traveling through the many imaginative forests of children's literature, one can discern a change in the cultural landscape. Beth Breau in her ForeSight Children's article, "Worlds of Words: Picture Books Tempt New Readers," indicates that the beloved folk and fairy tales that adults remember may not have the same aura of enchantment for their children because artwork has become dated and the sticky web of archaic words entangles meaning. "Luckily," she says, "children's books have kept pace with the rapidly changing cultural landscape of the twenty-first century by incorporating modern sensibilities into a host of retellings of old favorites from around the world."

"I have grown weary of the imitators who have coughed up newfangled renditions," writes Margery Cuyler, "at the expense of the old, archetypal versions, polished by storytellers over thousands of years." In her AfterWord essay, "Fractured Tales: Malnutrition for the Soul," Margery attempts to re-awaken the sleeping beauty of traditional fairy tales.

In this issue of Faith, an occasional supplement to ForeWord, Henry Carrigan, Larry Carpenter, and Jeffrey MacDonald discuss books that explore the intersection of faith with public policy and social issues.

Distinctive writing from independent publishers---whether about traveling the world or traveling the imagination---can enlighten or enchant, as well as inspire.
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Author:Moore, Alex
Article Type:Column
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2007
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