|San Marco and campanile from Palazzo Ducale|
After mentioning being dissatisfied with Venice, the narrator explains that they eventually came to appreciate the city, contrasting it with American civilization:
“….when, indeed, I tired of the continuous rush and roar of our courser, noisier, material civilization,-I turned to Venice again-this time as a lover. Its hopelessness fascinated me.”
The way I interpret this is that in Venice, “hopelessness” is the city’s love for what it already possesses, without the yearning for something more than it is. This is quite a contrast to American civilization which constantly has its eye on the future and towards improvement. In Venice, there is no trying to become or striving for something better. Its glory lies in its past and the present is an appreciation of its past.
When we find ourselves in a place like this, we are humbled by the expanse of time before us. Things are not so immediate. Things are not so rushed. The pace of life is slower. We are but a moment in the vast terrain of time.
It would be interesting to see if this contrast between two places and ways of thinking and living might play itself out in the novel.