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THURSDAY, JANUARY 21, 2021 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 " Dante created Italy. He didn't only give us our lan- guage, he gave us an idea of whom we are and what our Country is. The "Belpaese," where people say sì. A land made whole by culture and beauty, destined t o h a v e a n i m p o r t a n t r o l e i n t h e world: because heir to the Roman Empire and to the classical world; because cradle of Christianity and Humanism. Italy wasn't born from war nor diplomacy. Italy was born from Dante's words." Corriere della Sera editorialist Aldo Cazzullo wrote many books about Italy. His contribution to this special year dedicated to the 700th anniversary of Dante's death, are 278 pages whose aim is not solely honoring the Sommo Poeta, one of the most important literary authors in the world, but to explain how fundamental his contribution has been for our national iden- tity. His new book's back cover opens with this description of Dante as "Father of Italy." Mind, not the Italian State, that came only 540 years after his death, but that land "paradigm of culture and beauty"he writes about from the very first canto of his Divina Commedia. Dante shows us Italy through her art and culture, but also through places: from Florence to Lake Garda, from Venice to Monferrato, from Montaperti to Sicily, from Genoa to Verona, from Siena and Rome to Istria, from Ravenna and Mantova to Brindisi. "The very image of 'Bel Paese' was created by Dante. There is more, though, because Dante, to say it all, invents Italy her- self. Italy, with her extraordinary sense of respect for other nations, wasn't born from war like France, nor from a dyna- stic marriage like Spain. Italy wasn't born from a diplomatic treaty. As a State, Italy is very young, but she existed already thanks to Dante, who created the idea of the Roma dei Papi and the Roma dei Cesari. The Classics and Christianity, God and Man, together. This is why— Cazzullo continues, in an 700 years of Dante, 700 years of Italy From the Editor interview with Huffpost — Italy has a mission to the world: safeguarding such inheritance and keeping it alive. Italy is a system of beauty, art, culture and poetry." Dante wasn't gentle at all with his country. He portrayed it with all those vices (corruption, division, hatred among factions, inability to identify strong leadership…) we still recognize today. And this is why he is credible and always modern. Reading Dante Alighieri today isn't only a fascinating journey into a past that made us what we are, it is necessary to really understand and to know in depth what the Bel Paese is and who Italians are. Of course, Dante lived against a fully Medieval background, but it becomes imme- diately clear that this Florentine writer, who lived for 56 years between the 13th and the 14th century, is absolutely modern and capable, just as it happens with Shakespeare, to portray the human soul in all its facets. His modernity lies in this ability to aptly describe the complex nature of Humanity, with its values and vices, from its deepest aspirations to the most disastrous of its falls. Everyone, "Midway upon the journey of our life," can end up walking that path. The wandering of the Dantean Man is made of dark depths (Inferno), of change, transformation and transition (Purgatorio), and rebirth, regeneration and inner peace (Paradiso). This is what the Divina Commedia is: the long journey, perfectly described, of a man in search of himself. One idea, which is fundamental for all of us, is particu- larly evident: every person, according to Dante, is free and thus responsible of his or her own actions. This is the very r e a s o n w h y , i n t h o s e y e a r s , t h e w o r d U m a n e s i m o ( H u m a n i s m ) — a t e r m d e e p l y t i e d w i t h t h a t o f Renaissance— was coined. In open opposition to Medieval thought, Man becomes the centre of the Universe, because able to create his or her own destiny, to dominate Nature and to be the protagonist of history, without the necessity of divine intercession. Man is a faber fortunae suae, that is, the creator of his own destiny. He can build his own wealth and happiness through work, intelligence and will power. This idea fully overturns the theocentric vision of the Middle Ages, where God was at the heart of the Universe, and Man a mere pawn of His will. Dante's second revolution was a linguistic one. He gave importance to the language spoken by common people, giving it a relevance and dignity that, up to then, only Latin knew: literature could be made with vernacular. We can understand the innovative weight of it by making one sim- ple consideration: the 90% of the words we use today, in the Italian we speak everyday, were already in the Divine Comedy. This means that our ties with it, with Dante and with his times is still alive and well, if it's true that a langua- ge is representation of what is in our mind, and of what we are. Here, we mention a third, essential element: thought. Yes, because Dante tells us about Man, creates the Italian language, but he also condenses, in his work, Western cultu- re. Because in his imaginary otherworldly adventure he puts all that he, and the people of his time, inherited from the Classics, from Christianity and Judaism, from the contacts between Europe and Islam. Reading his work today makes a lot of sense. Actually, 700 years later, it offers us the oppor- tunity to make a beautiful journey through our culture and rediscover our roots, those of Italianità and of our founding values. And because centuries have passed, among sublime triumphs and painful defeats, we can today look at the greatness of Italy's genius and understand how essential its contribution has been for what we are today. In other words, Dante gifts us with the historical memory and conscience of what we were and what we've become. Simone Schiavinato, Editor NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS Member of FUSIE (Federazione Unitaria Stampa Italiana all'Estero), COGITO L'Italo-Americano 610 West Foothill Blvd. Unit D, Monrovia, CA 91016 - Tel.: (626) 359-7715 PLEASE SEND CORRESPONDENCE TO P.O. BOX 6528, ALTADENA, CA 91003 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano Newspaper (a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization), www.italoamericano.org, is the largest and longest-running Italian newspaper in America, not to mention the cultural and news resource for all things Italian in the US. A bilingual newspaper which represents an historical landmark for the Italian American Communities in the West Coast and throughout the US. L'Italo-Americano benefits from subsidies by the Italian Government, Memberships and Donations intended to support and not interrupt a mission that began in 1908 to preserve and promote the Italian language and culture in the USA Periodicals postage paid at Monrovia, California 91016, and additional mailing offices. PUBLISHER Robert Barbera Grande Ufficiale EDITOR IN CHIEF Simone Schiavinato ADMINISTRATIVE MANAGER Patrick Abbate EDITORIAL COORDINATOR Barbara Minafra COPY EDITOR Francesca Bezzone LOS ANGELES CONTRIBUTOR Silvia Giudici SAN FRANCISCO CONTRIBUTORS Catherine Accardi Serena Perfetto SEATTLE CONTRIBUTOR Rita Cipalla CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Mariella Radaelli, Francesca Bezzone, Luca Ferrari, Stefano Carnevali, Joel Mack, Paula Reynolds, Nicoletta Curradi, GenerosoD'Agnese, Fabrizio Del Bimbo, Maria Gloria, Alfonso Guerriero Jr., Anthony Di Renzo Serena Perfetto, Kenneth Scambray, Chiara D'Alessio © 2020 L'Italo-Americano Membership: One year $59 - Single copy $2.25 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to L'Italo Americano PO Box 6528 Altadena, CA 91003 Mail form and check to L'Italo-Americano, P.O.BOX 6528, ALTADENA, CA 91003

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