Sprezzatura: 50 Ways Italian Genius Shaped the World

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9780385720199: Sprezzatura: 50 Ways Italian Genius Shaped the World

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?
The word "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.

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"Everyone knows the difficulty of things that are exquisite and well done," the Renaissance philosopher Baldassare Castiglione once remarked. "So to have facility in such things gives rise to the greatest wonder." Italians call that artful facility sprezzatura, a term, Peter d'Epiro and Mary Desmond Pinkowish maintain, that well describes the nation's genius.

They have reason to celebrate: Italy, after all, has exerted an influence in world affairs and culture all out of proportion to its size and population, and has done so for hundreds of years. Among the authors' subjects are the navigators Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, and Giovanni Verrazano, whose transoceanic voyages changed the course of world history; Andrea Palladio, the architect whose theories have guided designers and builders to the present day; Claudio Monteverdi, whom the authors call "the father of modern music," who gave the world not only fine operas but also the modern orchestra; Enzo Ferrari, the great automaker; Roberto Rossellini, the often overlooked pioneer of New Wave cinema; and the anonymous Roman engineers who built aqueducts, sewers, and roads that still stand today.

Though short on interpretation (d'Epiro and Pinkowish offer little insight into why Italy should have produced such an abundance of inventive, often daring men--and women, though only a few figure in their pages), this anecdotal collection of biographical sketches is a pleasing entertainment for admirers of all things Italian. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

Peter D'Epiro received his BA and MA in English from Queens College and an MPhil and PhD in English from Yale University. His latest work is The Book of Firsts: 150 World-Changing People and Events from Caesar Augustus to the Internet. 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. D'Epiro and Pinkowish are also the authors of What Are the Seven Wonders of the World? and 100 Other Great Cultural Lists--Fully Explicated.

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Book Description Softcover. Book Condition: New. A witty, erudite celebration of fifty great Italian cultural achievements that have significantly influenced Western civilization from the authors ofWhat Are the Seven Wonders of the World?"Sprezzatura," or the art of effortless mastery, was coined in 1528 by Baldassare Castiglione inThe 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. Bookseller Inventory # 5360532

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