"Italy: The Enduring Culture" offers an insightful and fascinating look at the history, culture and society of this bewitching country. Jonathan White charts the formation of modern Italy, from the rapid rise of powerful merchant cities in Dante's time to millennial change in the present technological age, exploring how modern culture and society in Italy have emerged from earlier configurations. White looks specifically at how Italy has incorporated and continually represents its past. He reveals the ambivalence of the city of Venice as a living myth, its water-bound houses functioning alternately in the collective mind as figures of decadence and death and as signs of life, fulfilment and the birth of the future. The book explores the age-old culture of death in Sicily in the light of Mafia killings of public figures and aspects of Italian society and culture that include class, economics, politics, opera and literature. It also considers, in the context of Italian emigration, what qualities of "Italianness" survive in the espresso bars, luxury goods and musical culture of these far-flung Italian communities.
Affordable, fascinating and fully-illustrated throughout, this is the ideal book for anyone interested in Italian history, society and culture.
Table of Contents
List of Plates; List of Illustrations; Preface; Introduction: Italy in the Cultural Cosmorama; 1. Cities, Dantesque and Other; 2. Sexuality, Class and Economics: The Decameron as Originary Text; 3. 'The Architect Achieves His Victory': Renaissance and Later Ideal Cities; 4. 'When the Kissing Had to Stop': Eighteenth-century Venice - Apotheosis or Decline?; 5. Opera, Politics and Television: Bel Canto by Satellite; 6. Mimesis or Montage? Reflections on the Languages of Literature and Cinema; 7. The Triumph of Death: History in the Sicilian Context; 8. 'A Fine Funeral of Our Identities'? The Italian Diaspora of the Modern Epoch; Bibliography; Index.
Jonathan White is Lecturer in Literature at the University of Essex.