I read quite a bit about Leonardo da Vinci, and I delighted in stories about his quirky side, but I entertained no illusions that I would have any opportunity to personally see his larger than life masterpiece.
Then, one chilly Autumn afternoon, I found myself in The Louvre, staring at her 2'6" by 1' 9" likeness. "Wow!" I gasped. "She's so small!" For all her beauty, I could not help but feel ... deflated.
Likewise, when 19th century fans of Victor Hugo traveled to Paris to see his magnificent cathedral, as he described it in his novel, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, they found, instead, a decaying hovel.
Although Hugo did describe the sad state of the building of his time, it was his wishful literary vision of the Notre Dame, in all it's 15th Century splendor, that his readers remembered, and expected to see.
If Victor Hugo wrote his novel in an attempt to save the cathedral, he succeeded; she was actually scheduled for demolition at that time! However, a good writer wields expectations, which can mislead.
So, reader beware, and do not hold too tightly to a writer's musings. Just enjoy the ride. To quote from Mark Twain's Notebook, "You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
Image: Chris Friel