The child of Italian immigrants and an award-winning scholar of Italian literature, in My Two Italies Joseph Luzzi straddles these two perspectives to link his family's dramatic story to Italy's rth-south divide, its quest for a unifying language, and its passion for art, food, and family. From his Calabrian father's time as a military internee in Nazi Germany - where he had a love affair with a local Bavarian woman - to his adventures amid the Renaissance splendor of Florence, Luzzi creates a deeply personal portrait of Italy that leaps past facile cliches about Mafia madness and Tuscan sun therapy. He delves instead into why Italian Americans have such a complicated relationship with the old country, and how Italy produces some of the world's most astonishing art while suffering from corruption, political fragmentation, and an enfeebled civil society. With topics ranging from the pervasive force of Dante's poetry to the meteoric rise of Silvio Berlusconi, Luzzi presents the Italians in all their glory and squalor, relating the problems that plague Italy today to the country's ancient roots. He shares how his two Italies - the earthy southern Italian world of his immigrant childhood and the refined rthern Italian realm of his professional life - join and clash in unexpected ways that continue to enchant the many millions who are either connected to Italy by ancestry or bound to it by love.
Joseph Luzzi, the first American-born child in his Italian family, holds a doctorate from Yale and is a professor of Italian at Bard. He is the author of Romantic Europe and the Ghost of Italy, which won the Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies from the Modern Language Association, and A Cinema of Poetry: Aesthetics of the Italian Art Film. An active critic, his essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Bookforum, and The Times Literary Supplement. He is the author of the audio courses In Michelangelo's Shadow: The Mystery of Modern Italy, The Blessed Lens: A History of Italian Film, and The Art of Reading. His honors include an essay award from the Dante Society of America, a teaching prize from Yale, and a fellowship from the National Humanities Center. Luzzi lectures widely on Italy, literature, art, and film.