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The Absence of Grace: Sprezzatura and Suspicion in Two Renaissance Courtesy Books Paperback – October 1, 2000
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From the Inside Flap
The book is in three parts. Part One examines a distinction and correlation the Courtier establishes between two key terms, (1) sprezzatura, defined as a behavioral skill intended to simulate the attributes of (2) grazia, understood as the grace and privileges of noble birth. Because sprezzatura is negatively conceptualized as the absence of grace it generates anxiety and suspicion in performers and observers alike. In order to suggest how the binary opposition between these terms affected the discourse of manners, the author singles out the titular episode of Galateo, an anecdote about table manners, which he reads closely and then sets in its historical perspective. Part Two takes up the question of sprezzatura in the gender debate that develops in Book 3 of the Courtier, and Part Three explores in detail the characterization of the two narrators in the Courtier and Galateo, who are represented as unreliable and an object of parody or critique.
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