More than 500 years ago, the Bonfire of the Vanities purged sin and excess.Objects like cosmetics, artworks, mirrors and much more were burned in the town square. What are you going to throw on your own bonfire?
Is it Time to Start Your Own Bonfire?
Barely 500 years ago, Girolamo Savonarola was an outspoken and strident critic of the current order, angrily vilifying the worldly possessions that tempted people to become sinners.
He was ultimately excommunicated from the Catholic church, condemned for heresy, stripped of his priestly garments, hanged, and his body burned in the town square in Florence, Italy, a stark and ignominious ending to a life committed to vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.
Tom Wolfe wrote his first novel on this subject
Tom Wolfe, the esteemed American writer, published his first novel in 1987. (It was originally produced in the serial style of Charles Dickens, with 27 articles appearing in Rolling Stone magazine beginning in 1984.)
Wolfe was determined to expose the outlandish excesses of New York society in the 1980s, which were top of mind for many Americans in the same year that Oliver Stone’s infamous movie, Wall Street, starring Michael Douglas, was released.
The Bonfire of the Vanities
There is a compelling message in Wolfe’s novel, Bonfire of the Vanities, a phrase taken from the infamous public exhibitions that Savonarola instituted in Renaissance Florence 500 years ago.