The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini Author:trans. by Anne MacDonnell Cellini lived not one life but many in the feverish noon of the Italian Renaissance. He was the archetype of Renaissance man--craftsman, goldsmith, sculptor, lover, duellist and killer. His autobiography is one of the frankest ever written; his breath=taking ego makes his tale irresistible, whether it concerns the satisfying of a rich patron wit... more »h a matchless piece of craftsmanship or capturing a new mistress with a song.
One can imagine him, a bearded man in his fifties, dictating these things to a young apprentice whose writing occasionally shakes excitedly as Cellini relates some bizarre or outre incident--scholars have in fact noted this characteristic in the original and suggest this reason. Over half a century of life, most of it lived at white heat, is recorded; his employment at fifteen with a goldsmith; his leaving Florence after a brawl; his manual skill and performance on the corner which commended him to the Pope; his endless ingenuity in the making of all kinds of jewellery; his part in the defense of the Castle of S. Angelo when besieged by the Constable de Bourbon and his boast of having fired the shot that killed Bourbon. The fascination is endless, for he invests all with a rare bravado and humour.
Intensely alive, fanciful, boastful, it is impossible not to come under the spell of the man revealed in these pages--a craftsman who could make a patron exclaim ecstatically. 'The man is a wonder', and an individualist with the courage to defy his doctor's orders and cure himself of the plague. Small wonder Arthur Addington Symonds felt after reading him that 'the Genius of the Renaissance, incarnate is a single personality, leans out and speaks to us'.« less