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Castiglone's Book of the Courtier

post #1 of 4
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This is one of the important books that any clothing conniseur should have read once since it introduced the concept of sprezzuatura, studied carelessness. He writes that 'true art is what does not seem to be art; and the most important thing is to conceal it.' That is why we don't exactly match the tie with the handkerchief, to make it look as if we aren't trying that hard. But, I'm having a lot of difficulty reading the book. I just can't stand the style, so I've been cherry picking sections of the book and just wanted to know if I've interpreted it correctly. I feel that I must have missed something, because the logic of sprezzatura doesn't make sense. The problem with my translation is that they never use the term 'sprezzataura'. So, there's this one passage where he writes of 'showing a certain nonchalance with regard to what is not essential.' Is he saying that you should have this nonchalance for only things that aren't important? That would make sense since society has often stated that men interested in clothing are friviolous, and that's why we try to not show how much we know about it. But, then, he also applies this concept to women and to other situations as well. I'm not sure what the purpose of sprezzatura in clothing would be. As an example, if a artist could draw something simple perfectly, then it would imply the artist could draw a masterpiece if he put in the effort. Yet, if you're already dressed up in a suit, its not like there's any more room left to show how more skillfull you are as a dresser. And, does concept translate well into other cultures? There are certain cultures, i.e. Asian cultures, which glorify hard work and sacrifice. Would the Japanese or Chinese try to cultivate an image in their dress where they appear to have not put too much effort into this?
post #2 of 4
This is Giuseppie Castiglione of the Chinese courtier fame, yes? Known as Lang Shi-Ning in China.
post #3 of 4
No, this is Baltasar/Baldassare Castiglione of Rennaissance-era Italy (I want to say Milan); I believe he lived during the late 15th and early 16th centuries. I know one of his contemporaries was Raphael, who painted a somewhat famous portrait of him.
post #4 of 4
I love clothing and the Italian Renaissance. I wrote my dissertation on Machiavelli, and wrote a whole book about clothes that is a take-off on The Prince. But The Book of the Courtier defeated me. I could barely get through it. One thing is certain: translations are almost all lame. I have three supposedly "literal" translations of The Prince; they are far better than the average translation, but they are not altogether reliable. I still have to have the Italian text nearby at all times.
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