The Italians Summary & Study Guide

Luigi Barzini, Jr.
This Study Guide consists of approximately 24 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Italians.
This section contains 440 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Italians Summary & Study Guide Description

The Italians Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on The Italians by Luigi Barzini, Jr..

The Italians by Luigi Barzini is a brief study of the nature and mores of the Italian people. The book addresses the issues of religion, family, history, honor, art and more, which make up the fabric of the people and the country which have attracted the world's attention for centuries.

The author begins the book by posing options for Italy's fatal charm and the elements that draw countless numbers of people from all over the world to visit each year. Some people come for the sunny weather; some come to be educated, and some come merely to get lost in the sensuousness of her food, music and art. Visitors also range in income levels from starving artists to wealthy people looking for tax shelters. Men, in particular, come to Italy to pursue women who are reputedly more gorgeous than anyplace else.

Increasing numbers of visitors fall in love with Italy and either never leave or return to live soon after their departure. The lure of Italy, according to Barzini, is built on illusion and spectacle. The Italian people love drama and create it whenever and wherever possible in order to make the reality of their actual lives more palatable. This is exhibited in the exaggerated language and gestures of their speech, in the passion for pure, simple food, and the undying sentimentality for heroes and customs and family.

For Italians, the mix of illusion and reality is a precarious balance. Inherently each Italian knows that life is hard and pitiless, and the efforts to create spectacle and illusion are the main tactics to make it easier. The hard life begins at birth and each child receives gestures and rituals to drive away evil spirits which threaten to haunt the child for his entire lifetime.

There are varying techniques for managing through life dependent on the Italian's residence. Those in the industrial Northern part of the country focus on the pursuit of wealth garnered through education, technology and better jobs. Those in the more agrarian South appreciate wealth but find their path through the pursuit of power gleaned from influence from friends, family and other associates. In Sicily, the dynamic of intelligence and manipulation exhibits in the secret criminal group, the Mafia, a convoluted organization stemming from the revered family unit.

The author also explores the structure and interpersonal dynamics of the Italian family complete with the revered masculine children and the awe-inspiring, long-suffering Italian mother. This picture, along with stories of Italian people who characterize some of the traits of Italian life and culture, complete a view of an interesting, alluring country sure to provide drama to lure foreigners for lifetimes to come.

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This section contains 440 words
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