Bellissima: Feminine Beauty and the Idea of Italy

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Overview

Feminine beauty has been more associated with national cultural identity in Italy than in any other country. From the time of Dante and Petrarch, ideals of beauty have informed artists’ work. This intriguing and gloriously illustrated book investigates the many debates this topic has provoked in modern Italy.

Radicals and monarchists, Catholics, Fascists, and Communists have all championed specific ideas about female beauty. First theater and the press, then, later, cinema and television inherited from literature and art the task of articulating ideals. Gundle examines Fascism's failure to mold the ideal modern Italian woman, the rise of beauty pageants after World War Two, the professional and public roles of television actresses, the election of the first non-white Miss Italy in 1996, and the careers and images of beautiful women who have been seen to embody the country—Queen Margherita of Savoy, the opera singer Lina Cavalieri, and movie icons Gina Lollobrigida, Claudia Cardinale, Monica Bellucci, and Sophia Loren, who remains the living symbol of Italy and one of the most beautiful women in the world.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300123876
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 9/18/2007
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 7.60 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen Gundle is professor of Italian cultural history at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is the author of Between Hollywood and Moscow and The Glamour System.

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Table of Contents


List of Illustrations     viii
Acknowledgements     xi
Introduction     xv
Italy, the Land of Beauty     1
The Blonde Aura of Queen Margherita     33
The Rise of Professional Beauty     58
Fascism and the Allure of the Female Image     80
Beauty and National Identity after the Second World War     107
Catholics, Communists and Beauty Contests     125
The Female Film Stars of the 1950s     142
Mass Consumption and Ideals of Beauty     170
Emancipation, Eroticism and Nostalgia     191
Beauty and Ethnicity in the Era of Globalisation     223
The Return of the 'Bella Italiana'     245
Conclusion     261
Notes     269
Index     292
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