Time for a renaissance?

Mention the word, and people almost always think of the great period of discovery and enlightenment that took place during the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. The Renaissance, or rebirth, when much of Europe emerged from the so-called Dark Ages and vaulted into an era of great hope and wonderment.

In her 2003 novel The Birth of Venus, author Sarah Dunant depicts the character of Alessandra, a 15th-century Florentine woman inspired by the great painters of the age, who strives to paint a chapel with her own heavenly work. Alessandra calls herself "an inferior artist in a superior age," but notes that her efforts have nevertheless meant much, combined with those of so many others, "during those heady days when we brought man into contact with God in a way he had never been before." Summing up her work, Alessandra concludes that hers was but "a single voice lost inside a great chorus of others. And, such was the sound that the chorus made together, that to have been a part of it at all was enough for me."

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January 3, 2005
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