Satyr Square by Leonard Barkan
A Year, a Life in Rome

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The bewitching story of Rome teaching a lonely scholar how to discover himself Satyr Square—part memoir, part literary criticism, part culinary and aesthetic travelogue—is a poignant, hilarious narrative about an American professor spending a magical year in Rome. A scarred veteran of academic culture wars, Leonard Barkan is at first hungry, lonely, and uncertain of his intellectual mission. But soon he is appointed unofficial mascot of an eccentric community of gastronomes, becomes virtually bilingual, and falls in love. As the year progresses, he finds his voice as a writer, loses his lover, and returns definitively to America. His book is the celebration of a life lived in the uncanny spaces where art and real people intersect.

Satyr Square is not just about the Renaissance and ancient statuary, or Shakespeare and Mozart, Charles Bukowski and Paul de Man, eggplant antipasto and Brunello di Montalcino, foot fetishism and sulfur baths. At the heart of the narrative—its surface all irony, humor, and indirection—is a man of genuine ardor, struggling with what it means to be a homosexual and a Jew, trying to rediscover or reinvent his own intellectual passions. Funny, erudite, and lusciously rendered, Satyr Square gives us the whole of a life made up from fragments of Italy, art, food, and longing.

About Leonard Barkan

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Leonard Barkan is the Class of 1943 University Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University. His books include "Michelangelo: A Life on Paper" (Princeton); "Unearthing the Past: Archaeology and Aesthetics in the Making of Renaissance Culture"; The Gods Made Flesh: Metamorphosis and the Pursuit of Paganism; and "Satyr Square: A Year, a Life in Rome.
Published October 17, 2006 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 304 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Travel. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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An art scholar spends a year in Rome, living on the eponymous square, researching and writing a book, sampling the gastronomic and vinous bounties of the city, feeling lonely, enriching his Italian.

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Publishers Weekly

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Barkan, a Princeton professor of comparative literature, spent a year in Rome working on a book on the Roman Renaissance practice of exhuming ancient sculpture (Unearthing the Past ).

Jun 05 2006 | Read Full Review of Satyr Square: A Year, a Life ...

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