July 21, 2004

SPREZZATURA Great writing, great cooking, seemingly natural born gifts for some of us capture my attention and admiration. The Italians would call this sprezzatura. What a word when said with the embellishment of gusto of a native speaker. I came across this word in this Sunday's Boston Globe Ideas section in reference to a new cultural publication entitled, n+1. The newspaper describes the journal: Newsstand browsers will immediately notice the journal's longing for that halcyon era in which the anti-Stalinist left joined high-modernist litterateurs in the pages of Partisan Review. The stark red cover of n+1, which advertises such essays as "Against Exercise," "Palestine, the 51st State," and "Philosophy of Pop" in sans-serif type, is itself a self-conscious homage to the postwar American moment. But to read the contents of the journal -- "The Intellectual Scene," for example, knocks both The New Republic and The Weekly Standard and denounces Dave Eggers and his crew at McSweeney's and The Believer as a "regressive avant-garde" whose stylistic innovations mask a prissy moralism -- is to recognize that the sweet science of the literary brawl has been revivified. I was more intrigued by the lack of sprezzatura with the use of the word. So feeling humbled I went in search of a definition. In short it means "an assumed air of doing difficult things with an effortless mastery and an air of nonchalance. The longer academic rambling I found on the Washington State University literary arts section refers to the Castiglione Baldassare the writer...


what happens to the hole when the donut is gone?

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