tendhal, Shelley, Goethe, Heine, Douglas, Peggy Guggenheim- it goes on and on, the list of foreigners who have found Italy...

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THE ITALIANS

tendhal, Shelley, Goethe, Heine, Douglas, Peggy Guggenheim- it goes on and on, the list of foreigners who have found Italy fantastico. Why? And the roll call of artists, poets, novelists, statesmen, saints, sinners, composers and currently Gilmmakers which Italy has produced is equally lengthy. Again why? Luigi Barzini's tour of the bootshaped wonderland attempts the answers, but though clearly under her aturnalian spell, he is also sharply detached and beneath the dazzle senses despair: The Italian way of life cannot be considered a success except by temporary visitors. solves no problems. It makes them worse."" Thus the book's double-edged nature: ort of 19th century langurousness amidst a coolly condemning scholarly review. It is a measure of Barzini's achievement that these contradictory stances are resolved-tylistically anyway- in as smooth and satisfying a fashion as Soave wine. Barzini's knowledgeableness is immense: rather like having at hand a batch of IBM cards, anging through all cultural, historical and psychological aspects, from which he istills a last-word commentary. Past and present mingle without strain and the discussion touches everything: climate, family, love, Mafia, Church, industry, government, antiquity (Cola di Rienzo), power (Machiavelli), realism (Guicciardini), illusion (Cagliostro), showmanship (Mussolini) and so forth. According to Barzini, taly developed the Baroque spirit in order to lull regimentation and boredom (the win evils facing contemporary man). Alas, her lotus-eating appeal (towards which nnumerable tourists stream to be taught, to be tempted) results in inept laws and institutions, a half-way civilization. A book for debate in the academy and delight ships and planes for many a moon.

Pub Date: May 24, 1964

ISBN: 0684825007

Page Count: -

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1964

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