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He makes much of the Roman emperor Tiberius, who passed the last eleven years of his life on Capri, where he owned twelve villas, perhaps including San Michele.Mark Twain (1835-1910) anticipated Chatwin's trio with his idiosyncratic mansion in Hartford, Connecticut.In a dream that recurs with variations, I visit an apartment that I leased months or years ago. Or I find myself in an old house, one in disrepair.
Built in 1874 of multicolored brick, stone and wood, the house is described as Victorian Gothic.
It was gorgeously redecorated and enlarged in1881, to a total of 11,500 square feet. This period was the happiest and most productive of Twain's life, when he wrote his classic novels and raised three daughters.
I am spending my first night, with no furniture and little idea of where things are.
Again, a window or door is open, admitting drafts and noises from the street.
All of which seems harmless, except that plenty of people have trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality.
A diet of too many sweets is unhealthy, and a surfeit of dream houses leads to distress.
This can take the form of a real estate appraisal lower than expected, or denial of a permit, or notice of a zoning violation, or a construction cost that is spiraling out of control. He bought the ruin of a villa in 1887, then lavished a fortune on it.
A natural story teller, he mixes the serious and the supernatural, drops names, including the Queen of Sweden, and omits swathes of his life, including his wife and children in England and his omnivorous sex life.
An industry of books and shelter magazines testifies to the popularity of this domestic daydream. the year's most celebrated homes from the most accomplished designers. That would disrupt the dream, in which the magazine reader is the happy inhabitant.
Hanley Wood, for example, publishes which describes itself as an "annual showcase of our finest designs. The text reinforces the subliminal message, inviting the reader on a tour, and implying that all this can be yours. There is nothing unclear about the drawings and photographs.