Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Dream of Saint Ursula- chain of Inspiration

The Dream of Saint Ursula- Chain of Inspiration

A lot of the inspiration for this book came from my visits to the Virgin Islands and from all the beautiful places there.  Sharing some of these experiences was one of the primary motivations for writing the book, even though the story is completely made up.  If you’ve been there the book will probably make you want to return. If you haven’t it might make you want to plan a visit.

So, it turns out the Virgin Islands were named by Christopher Columbus for Saint Ursula and her virgins. Apparently the legend of Saint Ursula was popular in the late fifteenth century. I say this because there is also a famous series of paintings by a guy named Vittore Carpaccio that deal with different parts of the legend, all painted in the late 1490’s. 

For me, the most inspirational of Carpaccio’s paintings is called The Dream of Saint Ursula.  It shows an angle appearing at the foot of the bed in which Saint U is sleeping and so it reminded me of the series of drawings that Audrey Colebrook did which are mentioned in The Middle of the Air and in my new book, also named The Dream of Saint Ursula. Paintings play a big role in the plot of my book, another reason for borrowing the title.

In any case Carpaccio’s painting stuck in my mind and still does. It may be because of the angel, because of the detail or maybe because of the mood of mystery it leaves me with.  Then too, there is something odd about the perspective of the room.  The painters of this period did not make mistakes in perspective so I keep asking myself what it might mean. What am I missing?  I also wonder if Carpaccio and Columbus ever met.  They lives certainly overlapped in time and both were Italian.  I like to think they might have thrown back a few glasses of wine together at least once or twice.

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