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Galateo: Or, The Rules of Polite Behavior
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Galateo: Or, The Rules of Polite Behavior [Kindle Edition]

Giovanni Della Casa , M. F. Rusnak
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $8.69
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Book Description

“Since it is the case that you are now just beginning that journey that I have for the most part as you see completed, that is, the one through mortal life, and loving you so very much as I do, I have proposed to myself—as one who has been many places—to show you those places in life where, walking through them, I fear you could easily either fall or take the wrong direction.”

So begins Galateo, a treatise on polite behavior written by Giovanni Della Casa (1503–56) for the benefit of his nephew, a young Florentine destined for greatness.
In the voice of a cranky yet genial old uncle, Della Casa offers the distillation of what he has learned over a lifetime of public service as diplomat and papal nuncio. As relevant today as it was in Renaissance Italy, Galateo deals with subjects as varied as dress codes, charming conversation and off-color jokes, eating habits and hairstyles, and literary language. In its time, Galateo circulated as widely as Machiavelli’s Prince and Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier. Mirroring what Machiavelli did for promoting political behavior, and what Castiglione did for behavior at court, Della Casa here creates a picture of the refined man caught in a world in which embarrassment and vulgarity prevail. Less a treatise promoting courtly values or a manual of savoir faire, it is rather a meditation on conformity and the law, on perfection and rules, but also an exasperated—often theatrical—reaction to the diverse ways in which people make fools of themselves in everyday social situations.
With renewed interest in etiquette and polite behavior growing both inside and outside the academy, the time is right for a new, definitive edition of this book. More than a mere etiquette book, this restored edition will be entertaining (and even useful) for anyone making their way in modern civilized and polite society, and a subtle gift for the rude neighbor, the thoughtless dinner guest, or the friend or relative in need of a refresher on proper behavior.

Editorial Reviews


Galateo holds an important place in the long and rich history of etiquette books.”
(Judith Martin New York Times Book Review)

“Throughout, the book reveals a sophisticated understanding of human sensitivity, of our deep-rooted hunger for respect. . . . In its brevity, Galateo can almost be viewed as a kind of Renaissance Elements of Style, with the understanding that ‘style’ here means courteous behavior. Rusnak’s introductory essay, copious notes and bibliography usefully fill out some of the book’s historical context. But the counsel itself remains timeless.”
(Michael Dirda Washington Post)

“Della Casa’s advice is consistently delightful and pointed.”
(Boston Globe Brainiac Blog)

“A delightful new translation.”
(Stephen Greenblatt New York Review of Books)

“[Galateo] mixes sagacity with delicious asperity. Modern foodists would be aghast (and perhaps fall blessedly silent) at the advice on how to behave at a dinner party: ‘You must not do anything to proclaim how greatly you are enjoying the food and wine, for this habit is for tavern keepers.’ Della Casa is wonderfully irritated by people who interrupt constantly (they ‘surely make the other person eager to punch or smack them’), and people who describe their dreams in excruciating detail. It is somehow reassuring to know that idiots and bores are the same throughout the ages.”

(D. Stewart, Ohio University Choice)

About the Author

Giovanni Della Casa (1503–56) was a celebrated Italian writer and diplomat whose works in Latin and Italian spread across a stunning range of poetic and prose genres. M. F. Rusnak is a lecturer in Italian at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, and professor of English and Italian at Bucks County Community College.

Product Details

  • File Size: 552 KB
  • Print Length: 138 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 022601097X
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (June 7, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CN509JM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,815 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real classic June 30, 2013
This book is really timeless. Though written in Renaissance Italy, in Rusnak's translation it's just as fresh and pertinent to daily living as an advice column in a magazine or on the Web. The real title should be "How to Avoid Making a Fool of Yourself in Society," with plenty of examples. It has the wisdom and frankness of Dear Abby with the punch of a talk-radio host. Evidently people haven't changed much in 500 years. Read and enjoy.

One word of advice: there's not a lot of structure. Don't feel that you need to read it from beginning to end. Begin anywhere: the book is a great sendup of social boors, bores, and blunderers.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Galateo August 11, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A kind of guidebook to manners, Galateo is a delightful read. As a previous reviewer suggested, dip into it anywhere--it needn't be read in sequential order. It is not a novel, though it reads with the ease of one. Rusnak is a smooth and fluent translator. And his introduction is written with a scholar's care, and helpfully provides Renaissance context to Galateo's savory advices. The price is right, too, for a university press book presented in such a fine format.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GALATEO: THE RULES OF POLITE BEHAVIOR August 15, 2013
I've just completed my second reading of M. F. Rusnak's excellent translation of Galateo, and each time I've enjoyed the subtleties of Giovanni Della Casa's "rules" for behaving politely under social conditions rife with all kinds of subterfuge harmless and otherwise. Giovanni's repeated call for self restraint and introspection in pursuit of good conduct is shadowed by warning against too strict conformity, proof that we are witnessing a persona in conflict beneath a placid stream of good-will advice. Della Casa is shrewd indeed, for while hypocrisy in matters of etiquette is merely a social nuisance, it has serious implications within the context of psychology. The satirical mirror in which we see ourselves makes us laugh and wince at the same time. This is a challenging and instructive book on several levels of concern, including the historical, and I look forward to reading it again.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well thought out translation August 23, 2013
By artusi
Fantastic and carefully crafted translation of a text that has so many linguistic nuances. Highly recommended. Definitely the best on the market.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delightful! September 3, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
We would all do well to heed the advice in Galateo --"Every action of ours, instead, must suggest reverence and respect toward the company we keep," as we make our way through the 21st century. This delicious little book resonates with good sense, attention to the subtleties of social life, and kindliness of expression. M. F. Rusnak's translation enhances Giovanni Della Casa's voice without intrusiveness while retaining the delightful aspects of the work. It is a pleasure to read this book, which transcends time and place. Don't miss the impressive scholarship of M. F. Rusnak's introduction.
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