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The Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini


The Autobiography of Benvenuto CelliniThe Autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini
Translated by John Addington Symonds
Among the vast number of men who have thought fit to write down the history of their own lives, three or four have achieved masterpieces which stand out preeminently: Saint Augustine in his "Confessions", Samuel Pepys in his "Diary", Rousseau in his "Confessions". It is among these extraordinary documents, and unsurpassed by any of them, that the autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini takes its place.
The "Life" of himself which Cellini wrote was due to other motives than those which produced its chief competitors for first place in its class. St. Augustines aim was religious and didactic, Pepys noted down in his diary the daily events of his life for his sole satisfaction and with no intention that any one should read the cipher in which they were recorded. But Cellini wrote that the world might know, after he was dead, what a fellow he had been; what great things he had attempted, and against what odds he had carried them through.

The period covered by the autobiography is from Cellinis birth in 1500 to 1562; the scene is mainly in Italy and France. It was the age of Michelangelo, and in the throng of great artists which then filled the Italian cities, Cellini was no inconsiderable figure. Michelangelo himself he knew and adored.
Nowhere can we gain a better idea than in this book of the passionate enthusiasm for the creation of beauty which has bestowed upon the Italy of the Renaissance its greatest glory.


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