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Chapter Twenty One

The Christian martyr San Miniato picked up his severed head from the sand of the Roman amphitheater in Florence and carried it beneath his arm to the mountainside across the river where he lies in his splendid church, tradition says.

Certainly San Miniato's body, erect or not, passed en route along the ancient street where we now stand, the Via de' Bardi. The evening gathers now and the street is empty, the fan pattern of the cobbles shining in a winter drizzle not cold enough to kill the smell of cats. We are among the palaces built six hundred years ago by the merchant princes, the kingmakers and connivers of Renaissance Florence. Within bow-shot across the Arno River are the cruel spikes of the Signoria, where the monk Savonarola was hanged and burned, and that great meat house of hanging Christs, the Uffizi museum.

These family palaces, pressed together in an ancient street, frozen in the modern Italian bureaucracy, are prison architecture on the outside, but they contain great and graceful spaces, high silent halls no one ever sees, draped with rotting, rain-streaked silk where lesser works of the great Renaissance masters hang in the dark for years, and are illuminated by the lightning after the draperies collapse.

Here beside you is the palazzo of the Capponi, a family distinguished for a thousand years, who tore up a French king's ultimatum in his face and produced a pope.

The windows of the Palazzo Capponi are dark now, behind their iron grates. The torch rings are empty. In that pane of crazed old glass is a bullet hole from the 1940s. Go closer. Rest your head against the cold iron as the policeman did and listen. Faintly you can hear a clavier. Bach's Goldberg Variations played, not perfectly, but exceedingly well, with an engaging understanding of the music. Played not perfectly, but exceedingly well; there is perhaps a slight stiffness in the left hand.

If you believe you are beyond harm, will you go inside? Will you enter this palace so prominent in blood and glory, follow your face through the web-spanned dark, toward the exquisite chiming of the clavier? The alarms cannot see us. The wet policeman lurking in the doorway cannot see us. Come . . .

Inside the foyer the darkness is almost absolute. A long stone staircase, the stair rail cold beneath our sliding hand, the steps scooped by the hundreds of years of footfalls, uneven beneath our feet as we climb toward the music.

The tall double doors of the main salon would squeak and howl if we had to open them. For you, they are open. The music comes from the far, far corner, and from the corner comes the only light, light of many candles pouring reddish through the small door of a chapel off the corner of the room.

Cross to the music. We are dimly aware of passing large groups of draped furniture, vague shapes not quite still in the candlelight, like a sleeping herd. Above us the height of the room disappears into darkness.

The light glows redly on an ornate clavier and on the man known to Renaissance scholars as Dr. Fell, the doctor elegant, straight-backed as he leans into the music, the light reflecting off his hair and the back of his quilted silk dressing gown with a sheen like pelt.

The raised cover of the clavier is decorated with an intricate scene of banquetry, and the little figures seem to swarm in the candlelight above the strings. He plays with his eyes closed. He has no need of the sheet music. Before him on the lyre-shaped music rack of the clavier is a copy of the American trash tabloid the National Tattler. It is folded to show only the face on the front page, the face of Clarice Starling.

Our musician smiles, ends the piece, repeats the saraband once for his own pleasure and as the last quill-plucked string vibrates to silence in the great room, he opens his eyes, each pupil centered with a red pinpoint of light. He tilts his head to the side and looks at the paper before him.

He rises without sound and carries the American tabloid into the tiny, ornate chapel, built before the discovery of America. As he holds it up to the light of the candles and unfolds it, the religious icons above the altar seem to read the tabloid over his shoulder, as they would in a grocery line. The type is seventy-two-point Railroad Gothic. It says "DEATH ANGEL: CLARICE STARLING, THE FBI'S KILLING MACHINE."

Faces painted in agony and beatitude around the altar fade as he snuffs the candles. Crossing the great hall he has no need of light. A puff of air as Dr. Hannibal Lecter passes us. The great door creaks, closes with a thud we can feel in the floor. Silence.

Footsteps entering another room. In the resonances of this place, the walls feel closer, the ceiling still high--sharp sounds echo late from above--and the still air holds the smell of vellum and parchment and extinguished candlewicks.

The rustle of paper in the dark, the squeak and scrape of a chair. Dr. Lecter sits in a great armchair in the fabled Capponi Library. His eyes reflect light redly, but they do not glow red in the dark, as some of his keepers have sworn they do. The darkness is complete. He is considering. . . .

It is true that Dr. Lecter created the vacancy at the Palazzo Capponi by removing the former curator--a simple process requiring a few seconds' work on the old man and a modest outlay for two bags of cement--but once the way was clear he won the job fairly, demonstrating to the Belle Arti Committee an extraordinary linguistic capability, sight-translating medieval Italian and Latin from the densest Gothic black-letter manuscripts.

He has found a peace here that he would preserve--he has killed hardly anybody, except his predecessor, during his residence in Florence.

His appointment as translator and curator of the Capponi Library is a considerable prize to him for several reasons:

The spaces, the height of the palace rooms, are important to Dr. Lecter after his years of cramped confinement. More important, he feels a resonance with the palace; it is the only private building he has ever seen that approaches in dimension and detail the memory palace he has maintained since youth.

In the library, this unique collection of manuscripts and correspondence going back to the early thirteenth century, he can indulge a certain curiosity about himself.

Dr. Lecter believed, from fragmentary family records, that he was descended from a certain Giuliano Bevisangue, a fearsome twelfth-century figure in Tuscany, and from the Machiavelli as well as the Visconti. This was the ideal place for research. While he had a certain abstract curiosity about the matter, it was not ego-related. Dr. Lecter does not require conventional reinforcement. His ego, like his intelligence quota, and the degree of his rationality, is not measurable by conventional means.

In fact, there is no consensus in the psychiatric community that Dr. Lecter should be termed a man. He has long been regarded by his professional peers in psychiatry, many of whom fear his acid pen in the professional journals, as something entirely Other. For convenience they term him "monster."

The monster sits in the black library, his mind painting colors on the dark and a medieval air running in his head. He is considering the policeman.

Click of a switch and a low lamp comes on.

Now we can see Dr. Lecter seated at a sixteenth-century refectory table in the Capponi Library. Behind him is a wall of pigeonholed manuscripts and great canvas-covered ledgers going back eight hundred years. A fourteenth-century correspondence with a minister of the Republic of Venice is stacked before him, weighted with a small casting Michelangelo did as a study for his horned Moses, and in front of the inkstand, a laptop computer with on-line research capability through the University of Milan.

Bright red and blue among the dun and yellow piles of parchment and vellum is a copy of the National Tattler. And beside it, the Florence edition of La Nazione.

Dr. Lecter selects the Italian newspaper and reads its latest attack on Rinaldo Pazzi, prompted by an FBI disclaimer in the case of Il Mostro. "Our profile never matched Tocca," an FBI spokesman said.

La Nazione cited Pazzi's background and training in America, at the famous Quantico academy, and said he should have known better.

The case of Il Mostro did not interest Dr. Lecter at all, but Pazzi's background did. How unfortunate that he should encounter a policeman trained at Quantico, where Hannibal Lecter was a textbook case.

When Dr. Lecter looked into Rinaldo Pazzi's face at the Palazzo Vecchio, and stood close enough to smell him, he knew for certain that Pazzi suspected nothing, even though he had asked about the scar on Dr. Lecter's hand. Pazzi did not even have any serious interest in him regarding the curator's disappearance.

The policeman saw him at the exposition of torture instruments. Better to have encountered him at an orchid show.

Dr. Lecter was well aware that all the elements of epiphany were present in the policeman's head, bouncing at random with the million other things he knew.

Should Rinaldo Pazzi join the late curator of the Palazzo Vecchio down in the damp? Should Pazzi's body be found after an apparent suicide? La Nazione would be pleased to have hounded him to death.

Not now, the monster reflected, and turned to his great rolls of vellum and parchment manuscripts.

Dr. Lecter does not worry. He delighted in the writing style of Neri Capponi, banker and emissary to Venice in the fifteenth century, and read his letters, aloud from time to time, for his own pleasure late into the night.

Revue de presse

"Strap yourself in for one heck of a ride—it'll scare your socks off."—Denver Post

"Relentless—endlessly terrifying."—Los Angeles Times

"Interested in getting the hell scared out of you? Buy this book on a Friday ... lock all doors and windows. And by Monday, you might just be able to sleep without a night-light." —Newsday

Don't miss Thomas Harris's New York Times bestsellers:
Red Dragon
Black Sunday

Détails sur le produit

  • Poche: 560 pages
  • Editeur : Dell (23 mai 2000)
  • Collection : Roman
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 0440224675
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440224679
  • Dimensions du produit: 10,6 x 3 x 17,4 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.5 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (2 commentaires client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 29.479 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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CLARICE STARLING'S MUSTANG boomed up the entrance ramp at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on Massachusetts Avenue, a headquarters rented from the Reverend Sun Myung Moon in the interest of economy. Lire la première page
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Format: Poche
Thomas Harris m'a fait découvrir son univers, ce n'est pas dans le genre des crimes "facile, propre" mais du tordu, toujours fidèle à lui-même, la perfidie et ses propres lois. J'étais pris par la même passion, je ne pouvais plus quitter ces pages qui racontent l'existence du mal, il n'y a pas des méchants et les gentils, il y a un peu de tout chez chacun ce qui rends la chose encore plus subtile, effrayant. Absolument à lire et voilà la différence entre l'univers du film et du livre... ça se termine... autrement.. vous allez voir...
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Par Amélie le 5 juillet 2013
Format: Broché
This book is totally different from the silence of the lambs and must be read apart or you will be disappointed. It's not a thriller and there is a lot of violence.

I think it was interesting to see what could have happened to the characters even if the ending seems a bit strange. I think that the ending of the film was more credible and in accordanc to the characters.(
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115 internautes sur 135 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An Elegant Thriller 20 novembre 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Cassette
I can't recall a more elegant thriller than "Hannibal"-- in its careful, restrained use of language, its well-drawn characters, and especially in its commanding use of painstaking research. The book is replete with interesting facts about medicine, history, forensics, zoology, animal husbandry, medieval literature, art, cooking, the city of Florence, the Italian language, classical music, and wine-- all presented with Thomas' sure, confident touch.
This is not a conventional sequel, and many fans of "The Silence of the Lambs" will surely be horrified by this book's extremely shocking conclusion. Those in particular who regarded Clarice Starling as a feminist icon (including, perhaps, Jody Foster) may feel betrayed. However, I think Harris should be commended for his courage. The easiest (and most profitable) thing for him to do would have been to give us a "Silence of the Lambs" rehash, tailor-made for another blockbuster film adaptation.
Most of the plot concerns Mason Verger, a meat-packing tycoon and an early victim of Hannibal Lecter. A child molester whose victims include his own sister, Verger is as diabolical in his way as the doctor himself. Paralyzed and disfigured by his brush with Lecter, he is planning an elaborate and ghastly revenge-- which Harris describes with a morbid lyricism worthy of Edgar Allen Poe. The conflict here is between two monsters: one attractive (Lecter), one unattractive (Verger). Harris subtly encourages us to root for Lecter, giving "Hannibal" a moral landscape far more ambiguous, more disturbing, and more ironic than most thrillers.
Although I'm saving my pennies for the hardcover version, the 6-hour audio abridgement that I was lucky enough to find at my local library features a nicely understated reading by Thomas Harris himself-- speaking in a craggy, Mississippi-inflected voice that made me think of Mark Twain.
26 internautes sur 28 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Haunting Masterpeice 14 juin 2007
Par director man - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
While Silence of the Lambs is the best film in the Hannibal series. Hannibal by far is the best of the book series. Actually it's a masterpiece, if you can handle it. The way Harris develops plot and character is amazing. It is by far the weirdest and strangest. With characters who are disturbed, crooked, or cannibals this book is not for the faint of heart. The story his Harris's best and the themes are the most thought-provoking.
The story begins with the downfall of Clarice Starling (one of the best developed character in books today); a drug bust goes wrong, Crawford can't defend her anymore from injustice, and Hannibal Lector once in a while sends her letter. Her world is falling apart and you feel for her. Meanwhile Mason Verger, a child molester who Lector deformed has revenge on his mind and will pay anything or anyone to hunt down Lector alive so he can, well you'll see. Then there is Pazzi an Italian detective who hasn't had a big break for a couple of years and decides to hunt down Lector to get Verger's fee, little does he know how cunning Lector really is. And finally the controversial ending that everyone talks about. Its shocking and unexpected, if you haven't read about it yet, I'm still not sure if I like it, but you will think about for days.
The world is a dark place even for those who are good, is there light or redemption, or is there just death and mayhem. These are questions the book raises. Almost all the characters are the definition of grey; both good and evil are inside them. Its makes you look at yourself and what you have become. And what about all the biblical undertones? Powerful, masterful, and amazing, Hannibal will shock and haunt you for weeks. It might even make you think.
38 internautes sur 43 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A Fitting End To The Lecter Trilogy 15 février 2001
Par James O'Blivion - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
Being one of Thomas Harris' most dedicated fans, I purchased this novel upon the day of its release and eagerly gobbled up every sinewy morsel. After finishing, completely in awe of Harris' work (as always), I was astonished that so many had been disappointed, even appalled, by this offering. Speaking as one who has gone as far as to seek out and purchase first editions of all four Harris novels, I can say this..."Hannibal" was NOT as good as "The Silence of the Lambs"...this much is true. Then again, "The Silence of the Lambs" wasn't as good as "Red Dragon" was. But "The Silence of the Lambs" was still a fine novel and a fitting sequel to "Red Dragon"...just as "Hannibal" is a fitting final entry in the series. What Harris has given us here is almost a parody, a caricature of Lecter as he appeared in the first two novels...and why not? Now that Lecter is free, is it not plausible that he would be behaving quite differently than he did while confined? As for one reviewer's note that Lecter has been transformed into a "psychopath-wizard-pharmacist-scholar-surgeon"...well, apart from being a wizard, Hannibal has always been skilled in anatomy (see the previous books for further elaboration on this point) and his training as a psychiatrist would certainly explain his knowledge of pharmaceuticals...and who can deny that the good doctor has ALWAYS been a scholar? So, why is it that the same readers who believed Lecter capable of accurately depicting the Palazzo Vecchio and the Duomo (as seen from the Belvedere, mind you) solely from memory find his actions and capabilities in this novel so far-fetched? Lecter's intelligence, let us remember, has never been successfully measured by any standardized testing. As for Starling's actions in the book's closing chapters, she WAS under the influence of heavy drugs when she first bonded, shall we say, with Lecter...and, after learning the reasoning behind Lecter's cannibalism, she felt a certain kinship with him, and even an empathy for this man who was initially described to her as a monster. And what this novel does so brilliantly is to bring to light the root source of Lecter's psychosis...something which had always been the subject of fierce doubt. After all, people don't become serial killers (much less CANNIBALISTIC serial killers) without reason. And the childhood trauma experienced by Lecter as a child in WWII Europe certainly explains well enough why the doctor has such a taste for human flesh. And let's not forget that Thomas Harris didn't HAVE to write this novel. He was at the peak of his popularity with "The Silence of the Lambs" after the film version prompted many to pick up the novel at their local bookstores...he had written three #1 best-selling novels, all of which were adapted for the screen, and he was living the good life in Italy, feeling no financial or career-oriented pressure. He never had to write another word as long as he lived. He had earned his living, and he'd certainly made his mark. This novel was a GIFT from Mr. Harris to us, his loyal fans worldwide. It's a gift which I, personally, had been waiting YEARS for...and I loved every word of it...
11 internautes sur 11 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Great writing and characters wasted on a weak ending 18 août 2000
Par Polly L. Mccall - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche
Let me say at the outset: I love Thomas Harris's work. I have read and listened on audio to Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs multiple times. I did not care as much for the movie Silence of the Lambs, because I thought they got elements of the Lecter/Starling relationship wrong.
Well, the movie didn't get it nearly as wrong as Mr. Harris himself in this novel.
Although the novel is completely engrossing (and will gross you out), I simply didn't believe the ending. I could very well have accepted it if I could have seen the logical development of Clarice's character moving in that direction. I was left thinking "Why?" I was sorry to see Clarice come to such a sorry end. I genuinely liked her. And, I would have continued to like her if I could have seen her character developing in that direction. But it was almost like I was moving along the road South, then all of the sudden - OOPS! I'm going East! It was awkward and poorly developed. It was not that it was a surprise ending - it was a poorly contrived surprise ending.
I was very intrigued by the development of Dr. Lecter, and recognized that I was "rooting" for him. I wanted to know more about Dr. Lecter after reading the two earlier works, especially about how he developed his predeliction for cannibalism and torture. The background on the Tooth Fairy and Buffalo Bill were some of the best parts of their respective books, and part of what I felt was missing in the move adaptation of "Lambs." Harris does almost as well here, though I wanted more.
Mason Verger was a revolting and fascinating villain. I easily was more sympathetic toward Dr Lecter.
There was lots of Harris's trademark detail and atmosphere. I did not resent the time spent on Florentine history and art, but I wish he had spent equal time developing Dr Lecter's past, and also on developing the Clarice plot so that the ending made sense.
20 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Good storytelling, bad story 15 janvier 2003
Par Jennifer M. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Relié
Thomas Harris lured me into this book with his reputation ("Silence of the Lambs") and kept me there, albeit reluctantly, with his skills as a writer. Unfortunately, in the case of "Hannibal," the plot leaves a lot to be desired. The whole thing was so bizarre that I had to finish it just to see how it turned out, but did I like what I was reading? Not so much. I'm referring specifically to the ending, which I thought was absolutely ridiculous. I can't accept that the Clarice Starling readers have come to know, admire, and even love, would ever run off with Lecter.
As far as the other characters are concerned, the new ones are so far over the top as to be completely unrealistic (Mason and Margot), and most of those we remember from "Silence" behave in ways that are just too outrageous to be credible. I finished this book and just sat with my mouth open, unable to believe what I had just read. "Sex is a splendid structure they add to every day," is not a sentence I ever wanted to read about Starling and Lecter. It's just...wrong. Granted, these are Harris' characters and he can do with them what he likes, but I think he dropped the ball on this one.
My last complaint: Harris' clumsy attempts to explain the origin of Hannibal's evil. He should have left well enough alone. To me, it is much scarier *not* to know why Hannibal Lecter is the way he is; it leaves open the possibility that it anyone could become such a monster. I imagine people had their own theories, and when something like that is left to the reader's imagination, it can assume many shapes. When Harris gives us Lecter's backstory, as unusual as it may be, he forever closes the door on our possibilities, and thereby reduces Lecter as a villain, although he does perhaps become somewhat more sympathetic a character. I don't think we needed to know *why* Lecter is evil; it is enough to simply know that he is.
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