In studying Italian I am learning to read Italy.
The books that guide my rudimentary, albeit growing, knowledge of Italian have taught me a lot about culture. Indeed, words tell us a lot about culture. In books, and the words within them, one also learns a lot about cultural cross-over and the aspirational dreams that shape cultural understanding.
As for Italian. I begin simply and eventually make my way to grown-up writing on a subject I know well. Il lupo che voleva cambiare colore / The wolf that wanted to change colors will strengthen my understanding of foundational linguistic principles, I hope in the company of my sweet Henry. Perhaps I will charm him with my not too shabby pronunciation. Doubtful. I think is will be the lovely illustrations that will capture his heart. L’albero / The Giving Tree has been a favorite of mine, and Henry, forever! It is also the prefect way to reinforce the all too many tenses of Italian grammar – and have more reading time with the sweetest boy on the planet. I can then move on to Buon Appetito: l’alimentazione in tutti i sensi / Enjoy your food: Using all your senses. In the company of the most divine food on earth, I get to graduate from elementary school. With my feet firmly planted in middle school, I can enjoy the ironic feminist fairytale L’incredibile storia di Lavinia / The incredible story of Lavinia. My dear friend, Sara, promises I will love it, although I fear it may take the full two years of middle school to make my way through it. Finally, I will sit back with my la Repubblica D magazine, D for donne or women, and enjoy an article on La Strategia di Hillary / Hillary’s strategy. As I know a lot about Hillary, I can already nearly make sense of the entire article. Piano, piano! Slowly, slowly!
As for culture. Well, who does not like a wolf that changes colors? And Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree clearly demonstrating the power of imagery to transcend cultures. One does not need words to understand the gift of giving. Then there’s food. Tell me; is food not the universal cultural intermediary? Si e buon appetito! I will have to withhold judgment on the Italian feminist fairytale. However, in seeing the illustrations and knowing la mia amica, Sara. Io lo sai sarà fantastico! When it comes to aspirational branding, all one has to do is look to Hillary Clinton and you see in her an aspirational brand. However, in the end, I must admit that the idea of an Italian feminist fairytale and the Italian obsession with Hillary Clinton feels odd in the land of la velina.
Reading Italy will take me a long time.