La Contessa: Aldo Cazzullo’s review of Benedetta Craveri’s book

Aldo Cazzullo (photo by Carlo Furgeri Gilbert).

“TO Paris the young conspirator had not only discovered the enormous power conferred on her by beauty and the possibility of putting it at the service of an exciting cause, but had also developed a genuine political passion. For the first time narcissism had given way to an interest that she called into question intelligence, analytical skills, clarity of judgment ».

Who writes is Benedetta Craveri, a great French scholar who brings the tradition of liberal culture to life in our country. And the woman you write about is the countess Virginia Verasis of Castiglione (The Countess is the title of the book, published by Adelphi, on the cover one of the famous photos that Virginia, a forerunner as well as a photographic model, had herself taken).

As Margherita Sarfatti was finally removed from Mussolini’s bed, to be restored to her stature as the first European art critic, so the work of Benedetta Craveri removes the Countess of Castiglione from the bed of Napoleon III and from the cliché of “whore of the Risorgimento”.

Virginia was an extraordinary woman. Really dedicated to the cause of the unification of Italyto the redemption of a country which, in brotherhood with France by Latin unity, could return to the continent’s cultural reference point in his vision.

“The Countess – Virginia Verasis di Castiglione” by Benedetta Craveri (Adelphi).

Having said this, the countess went to bed with Napoleon III; And on his way he found the Empress Eugenia, a cold and anti-Italian Spaniardwho, in order to discredit her rival, went so far as to stage a false attack on her husband at the exit of the house in Virginia, in avenue Montaigne.

The countess was innocent, and the emperor returned to visit her. But Eugenia threw him into the arms of another Italian, whom she could control: Maria Anna Zanobi di Riccia Tuscan noblewoman who had married Count Walewski, son of Maria Walewska and Napoleon I.

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Once it was said of an essay that “one reads in one breath like a novel.” In fact, essays like this are the new novels.
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All the articles by Aldo Cazzullo