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THURSDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2022 www.italoamericano.org L'Italo-Americano 2 " I n t h i s c o n s u m m a t e portrait of the Italian p e o p l e , b e s t s e l l i n g author, publisher, jour- nalist, and politician Luigi Barzini delves deeply into the Italian national character, discovering both its great quali- ties and its imperfections. Barzi- ni is startlingly frank as he exam- ines 'the two Italies:' the one that created and nurtured such lumi- naries as Dante Alighieri, St. Thomas of Aquino, and Leonar- do da Vinci; the other, feeble and prone to catastrophe, backward in political action if not in thought, 'invaded, ravaged, sacked, and humiliated in every century.' Deeply ambivalent, Barzini approaches his task with a combination of love, hate, disillusion, and affectionate paternalism, resulting in a completely original, thoughtful, and probing picture of his countrymen." This is how The Italians, a 352-pages-long volume published for the first time in 1964, was presented. The book was, for many Anglophone readers, the first introduction to Italian culture and life and The New Yorker reviewed it this way: "Searching into every corner of Italian life and scrutinizing every cliché concern- ing it, from the charm of the people (an illusion, he maintains) to the consolation of la Dolce Vita (another one), Mr. Barzini has written an invaluable and astringent guidebook to his country." With the Italian Heritage Month, it's time to take a closer look at our "cultural DNA" From the Editor Its Penguin edition, on the other hand, presented it with these words: "The 'fatal charm of Italy' has held Lord Byron and mil- lions of tourists ever since in its spell. Yet, beneath 'the brilliant and vivacious surface,' what are the realities of Italian life? Few writers have ever painted a portrait of their compatriots as crisp, frank and fearless as Luigi Barzini's. Cutting through the familiar clichés, he instructs us with a cascade of anecdotes and provides a marvellous guided tour through centuries of history. He exam- ines Machiavelli and Mussolini, popes, pilgrims and prostitutes, cliques and conspiracies, Casanova and the crippling power of the Church. Yet alongside the Baroque exuberance and spectacu- lar display, the love of life and the life of love, he also shows us a divided nation, injustice, ignorance, poverty and fear. All this is Italy, a country of dazzling achievement and an uncanny apti- tude for getting round problems; both its virtues and its vices are celebrated in this sparkling book." Every year, the fall brings us the Italian Heritage Month, an occasion to reflect upon our cultural heritage. Leafing through The Italians, a portrait of our nation, it's an invitation to take a closer look at our "cultural DNA." Incidentally, its author, Luigi Barzini, special correspondent for the Italian daily Il Cor- riere della Sera, was born in 1908, just like L'Italo-Ameri- cano. We are not going to reveal too much about the suggestive magic of Barzini's book, where our history and our culture are presented in a way bound to cause lively discussion. Is it a por- trait or a caricature? Is it satire or a moral tale? Is it still relevant today? Was it believable back then? Did Barzini go too far? How much did we change? How did Barzini's own personal views affect his portrayal and perception of his people? However, the point isn't really understanding whether Barzini was right or wrong. Every opinion, never mind who voices it, is a consequence of the times in which it emerged, of those in which it is heard or read, and of personal views. The Italians, undoubtedly, had several merits: it made us more aware of how we are and stressed the importance of self- analysis and self-knowledge; it made us realize the significance of doing some soul-searching, both individually and collectively, to understand who we are, how we present ourselves to the world and what we want and do not want to be. Today, almost sixty years later, we certainly understand a lot more and are ready to recognize undeniable truths as well as all those twists and turns in our identity that are a product of the historical times when they appeared. But what counts the most is that, when reading Barzini's work, we ask questions about our- selves, about who we are as Italians. At the same time, every Italian should read The Italians inde- pendently, to challenge their own beliefs and stereotypes about themselves and the Italian community, but also to stand face-to- face with what others say about them, because how they are pic- tured – in cinema, for instance – is often very different from how we know, think of and describe them. As interesting as it may be, we shouldn't forget that Barzini's book represents one single point of view. Some agree with it, others don't. Identity is a matter of perspective, perceptions, experience. What truly counts is asking ourselves how we feel about the way we define and describe ourselves as Italians, about how we are identified by others. Dealing with how we feel and think about ourselves, with how we understand ourselves as Italians, is key, just like it is to reflect on how we present ourselves to the world, through "our own" Italian dimension. Reading and talking about us is healthy, it's good for us all. Dear readers, happy Italian Heritage Month! Simone Schiavinato, Editor Simone Schiavinato NEWS & FEATURES TOP STORIES PEOPLE EVENTS P.O.BOX 6528, ALTADENA, CA 91003 Member of FUSIE (Federazione Unitaria Stampa Italianaall'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 repre- sents 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, Paula Reynolds, Nicoletta Curradi, Generoso D'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 P.O.BOX 6528, ALTADENA, CA 91003

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