Sprezzatura: 50 Ways That Italian Genius Shaped the World

Sprezzatura: 50 Ways That Italian Genius Shaped the World

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by Peter D'Epiro, Mary Desmond Pinkowish
     
 

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A witty, erudite celebration of fifty great Italian cultural achievements that have significantly influenced Western civilization from the authors of What Are the Seven Wonders of the World?

“Sprezzatura,” or the art of effortless mastery, was coined in 1528 by Baldassare Castiglione in The Book of the Courtier. No one has demonstrated

Overview

A witty, erudite celebration of fifty great Italian cultural achievements that have significantly influenced Western civilization from the authors of What Are the Seven Wonders of the World?

“Sprezzatura,” or the art of effortless mastery, was coined in 1528 by Baldassare Castiglione in The Book of the Courtier. No one has demonstrated effortless mastery throughout history quite like the Italians. From the Roman calendar and the creator of the modern orchestra (Claudio Monteverdi) to the beginnings of ballet and the creator of modern political science (Niccolò Machiavelli), Sprezzatura highlights fifty great Italian cultural achievements in a series of fifty information-packed essays in chronological order.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the early 16th century, Count Baldassare Castiglione penned his famous Book of the Courtier, synthesizing the ideals of the medieval courtly gentleman with the new "Renaissance man." Above all, the courtier should exhibit the qualities of grace and sprezzatura, which D'Epiro and Pinkowish accurately describe as "an assumed air of doing difficult things with an effortless mastery and an air of nonchalance." In 50 bite-sized chapters that are as delicious as they are short, D'Epiro and Pinkowish (What Are the Seven Wonders of the World?) take readers through a whirlwind tour of 25 centuries of culture and history on the Italian peninsula. From the calendar and Roman law to the Montessori method and Enrico Fermi, readers can delight in the defeats and accomplishments of a most varied group of men and women. Most books extolling the Italians conveniently delete the dark side of Italian history; this one honestly leaves in many of the more brutal details. The writing is engaging, and the authors' lively and descriptive style almost compensates for a lack of illustrations. One of the book's great merits is that it will surely stimulate readers to return to their Ovid, Livy, Dante and Boccaccio; in addition, one can gain greater appreciation for such masterpieces as Rossellini's Rome, Open City and Giuseppe Di Lampedusa's The Leopard. Although the authors only hint at it, sprezzatura is anything but effortless: mastery of any skill requires more perspiration than inspiration. Or, as D'Epiro and Pinkowish point out, the "social mask," or the "disjunction between appearance and reality," is "the very patina of civilization." (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307427922
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
12/18/2007
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
277,163
File size:
796 KB

Meet the Author

Peter D'Epiro and Mary Desmond Pinkowish are the authors of What are the Seven Wonders of the World?: And 100 Other Great Cultural Lists--Fully Explicated. Peter D'Epiro is also the author of The Book of Firsts: 150 World-Changing People and Events from Caesar Augustus to the Internet. He received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from Queens College and his M. Phil. and PH.D. in English from Yale University. He has taught English at the secondary and college levels and worked as an editor and writer for thirty years. He lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey.  Mary Desmond Pinkowish is the author of numerous articles on medicine and general science for physician and lay audiences.  A graduate of Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where she studied biology and art history, she also earned a master's degree in public health from Yale University.  She works for Patient Care magazine and lives in Larchmont, New York.




From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Sprezzatura: 50 Ways That Italian Genius Shaped the World 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous 9 months ago
A good read for those who want to find themselves and to understand what Italy and being Italian is really all about. I think that the illustrations should be made available on the same page where they are mentioned and not at the end of the book.
JMD_Skeptic More than 1 year ago
This was a surprise. It is not a puff piece simply boastful of Italian culture. The surprise was it's academic and research tone. It is peppered with footnoted facts not relegated to either the bottom of the page or worse the back of the chapter or the worst, the back of the text. The back of the tex does have a wealth of additional reading for the truly interested. The easily read prose brings us directly from Italian/Roman accomplishment to modern day results (admitted by the authors to have been, in many cases the beginning and not the whole) of Italian inventiveness, brilliant scientific, engineering and artful accomplishment, intellectual excellence and brash accomplishment. It reveals the cultural, religious, logistical and historical environment and context in which these sometimes courageous men and women were operating. Pointing out some of the personal challenges associated with their accomplishments. Proud to be any part Italian once you read this.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have come across in a long long time. Wonderful writing style. Not dry and academic. Full of great information, even though somehow I suspect if the information may be a little biased! But certainly informative and rewarding. Highly recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Expertly researched and written, with plenty of side essays linking Italian inventions and inspirations to modern conditions that we often take for granted. One essay for example: What a surprise to see the Roman Republic credited with inventing concepts like balance-of-powers, multi-branch government, separation of lawmaking and execution, use of the veto, and other mainstains of the US constitution, which was liberally constructed on the history of successful societies. The fifty self-contained essays make an otherwise ponderous amount of information accessible and easily readable. Those who love Italy and History will love this fascinating book. There is something for everybody, with topics including arts, sciences, literature, religion, politics, medecine, mythology, exploration, law, the Renaissance, astonomy, education, famous inventions, modern fashion, fast cars, and of course, famous Italians like St. Thomas, Dante, the de Medici dynasty, Leonardo, Machiavelli, Galileo, Marconi, and many others. This book rejoices in the muti-faceted successes that people and culture brought forth, and not the usual, contemporary image of eye-talians as foul-mouthed thugs.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is must have book.It's full of facts and descriptions that answer many, many questions you meant to ask along the way, before you got to this.The writing is conversational and friendly,yet as authentic and trustworthy as any quality academic tome.You get a perspective on many, many ideas,structures,objects, and events that comes only from a sure hand. The book is itself an example of sprezzatura.