What Moves the Stars?

My piece on grief, love, and “what moves the stars”… [read here]

Paradiso_Canto_31Gustave Doré, Dante and Beatrice gaze at high heaven [source: Wikimedia Commons]

Never Let Them See You Sweat

Who’s the father of Renaissance “cool”? Find out here…

Joseph Luzzi

There are many words in Italian that defy translation: bella figurasimpatico, and my favorite, sprezzatura. The Oxford New American Dictionary will tell you that it means “studied carelessness,” but that’s only a small part of it. What the word actually suggests is a truly Italian approach to the fine art of living—at least as it was practiced several hundred years ago.

Sprezzatura may be difficult for us to understand today. William Deresiewicz has described our “virtually exhausted” American way of life, a time of nonstop and hyperconnected labor, with little boundary between the office and the home. “We’re in a panic as a nation,” Deresiewicz writes, “that we don’t work hard enough, and blame this iniquity for our ‘decline.’ ”

They saw things differently in the Renaissance. The key then was to show people how hard you were not working, to effect an air…

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Summer Love

My thoughts on reading for what Henry James called the two most beautiful words in English: “summer afternoon.”

Joseph Luzzi

Henry James once said that the two most beautiful words in the English language were “summer afternoon.” Not bad, but I would say “summer reading.” Each June, when the school year ends and the days lengthen, I start to collect my friends for the warm months ahead. It’s a time of hope and passionate resolutions: Stendhal’s Charterhouse of Parma in the original French, that Yale Younger Poets winner, the cascading chapters of Middlemarch, a tennis biography, something on the Founding Fathers. I swear to myself that I will get through it all; this year will be different.

Melchers_Lady_Reading-1 Gari Melchers, “Lady Reading” (1910)

Of course, by the end of August, I will have only finished a fraction of these pages. Read and unread, the pile rests on my living room table all summer, the perfect backdrop for the season. We can daydream and make big unrealizable plans when it’s cold…

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