Consigli di lettura

Come scrivere un romanzo in 100 giorni

Conoscere l'editing

Interviste scrittori

An American’s view on relationships in Italy

Italian Style, Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren[Article written by Rick Zullo (here you can find an interview with him in Sul Romanzo), author of several books on Italy viewed by an American]

Italian guys get kind of a bad rap. We’re all familiar with the stereotypical Latin Lover, which unfortunately continues to be promoted in silly romantic comedies and the wistful memoirs of Elizabeth Gilbert. Italian men are usually portrayed as smooth-talking, sex-crazed, anti-feminists. But I’d like to suggest that what is generally viewed as misogyny might actually be chivalry in disguise.

What? OK, let me start over and I’ll try to explain this from my point of view.

For American men, figuring out the latest politically correct protocol for relating to women can be a confusing, if not paralyzing, conundrum. Should we open the door for her or would she see that as an insult? If we pick up the dinner check does that imply that she’s incapable of paying for herself or is it a nice gesture? Should we assume the top position or offer to be on the bottom? Such are the woes of the American dating scene and it’s a landscape fraught with peril.

It appears to me that, traditionally, Italian men aren’t burdened with such dilemmas. Gender roles have been well established and there’s little room for interpretation – or misinterpretation –, especially from Rome, to the south. When romancing a woman, a man’s directive is to be as aggressive as possible. Period. Not in a threatening way, but if you don’t shower her with compliments and profess your eternal love and admiration, then how could she possibly take you seriously?

Meanwhile a woman’s job is to resist as aggressively as possible. To do otherwise would put her virtue in question. The would-be Romeo is rebuffed, scoffed at, or else just ignored outright. If you want to gain her favor, then you’d better try a little harder. Smooth talk alone doesn’t warrant her attentions – she gets that from every ragazzo in town, so what makes you so special?

However, the discussion goes beyond these obvious gambits of courtship and permeates into the cultural mentality at large. To put this dynamic into high focus we should venture down The Boot a little further to Naples and the Amalfi Coast where we can witness the action in its purest, most elemental form.

Last April, I was vacationing in Sorrento with my Italian fidanzata. I foolishly left her side for a moment to grab a bottle of water a nearby bar. A middle-aged man and his young son passed by as my girlfriend was slowly sauntering back towards our hotel, wearing only a sheer beach wrap over her bikini. The man stopped, turned his head, and said to his seven year-old son, «Fatte l’uocchie, bell’a papá!» Roughly translated, he was saying, “Fill your eyes (enjoy this feast for your eyes), daddy’s boy!

There was no embarrassment in his voice, no hushed conspiracy between father and son – I clearly heard his words from 10 meters away. He was instructing his offspring on the ways of the world, using my girlfriend as an opportune example. It was like watching one of those Discovery Channel documentaries where a lion is teaching his little cub to hunt. The fact is, the second I stepped away she became fair game. Had we still been walking hand in hand, he wouldn’t have been so bold. Probably.

[I servizi di Sul Romanzo Agenzia Letteraria: Editoriali, Web ed Eventi.

Seguiteci su Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Issuu e Pinterest]

Rick ZulloThis reminds me of another occasion when we were trying to get a table at a pizzeria in Naples. My Italian language skills are often reluctant to emerge before Happy Hour and so I allowed my girlfriend to speak to the owner/host. The man was courteous, but even though Jessica was asking him the questions, he looked squarely at me when he answered. Was he disrespecting her by turning away? Now before we answer, we must consider his cultural reference points. Social norms are not absolutes so we must tread lightly before imposing our puritan criteria on folks who weren’t subjected to the same indoctrination. In his mind, he was being polite as possible: polite to her for not “troubling” her with the rigors of such a mundane task; and polite to me by not “flirting” with my girlfriend right in front of my face. To do so would suggest that I was cornuto, which would certainly call for fisticuffs, if not a knife fight (Pistols are only appropriate when actually caught in the act). It’s a certain code of chivalry, if you see what I mean.

I’m American and too old to change my stripes. While I admire some aspects of an Italian man’s overall relationship with women, I know that I could never comfortably subdue the politically correct puritan that lurks inside all of us americani. But let’s be clear: just because we Americans might appear more “well-mannered” on the outside, doesn’t mean that our thoughts are any less lascivious within. I think there’s an admirable brand of honesty in the Italian man’s treatment of women. Indeed, they don’t treat them as equals – they treat them better than equals in many ways. Every virtuous woman is to be revered and respected as if she were Mother Mary, especially your own mother and your wife. (Then again, that’s also a man’s excuse for having extra-marital affairs, as Robert DeNiro’s character explained so eloquently in Analyze This: «I can do things with my girlfriends that I can’t do with my wife. She kisses my children with that mouth!»).

So in the end, where does that leave us, the poor American traveler or expat who’d like to meet a nice Italian girl? My friends, I’m afraid that the news isn’t good. You’ve got no chance. Come visit the sights, savor the food, and look at the girls. Take their pictures, if you’d like, they won’t mind.  They might even pose for you. But that’s as far as it’ll go. Don’t even bother entertaining your post-modern Sophia Loren fantasy because it’ll never happen – just give up now and save yourself the disappointment and heartache.

Hold on a second – the astute reader has detected a major contradiction here. Didn’t I mention earlier that I have an Italian girlfriend myself? Yes, that’s right – in fact, now she’s my Italian wife. But sorry guys, this was an anomaly, really. Right place, right time, sort of thing; like seeing Haley’s Comet. I must have caught her at a very precise moment when she’d heard «Principessa, sei l’amore della mia vita!» one-too-many times. Instead, I came along and did the only thing that I knew how to do: I simply asked her out on a proper date. We watched Shakespeare in the park. I even paid for dinner and opened the door for her. (And the rest of that night is nobody’s business.)

Il tuo voto: Nessuno Media: 4.7 (3 voti)

Il Blog

Il blog Sul Romanzo nasce nell’aprile del 2009 e nell’ottobre del medesimo anno diventa collettivo. Decine i collaboratori da tutta Italia. Numerose le iniziative e le partecipazioni a eventi culturali. Un progetto che crede nella forza delle parole e della letteratura. Uno sguardo continuo sul mondo contemporaneo dell’editoria e sulla qualità letteraria, la convinzione che la lettura sia un modo per sentirsi anzitutto cittadini liberi di scegliere con maggior consapevolezza.

La Webzine

La webzine Sul Romanzo nasce all’inizio del 2010, fra tante telefonate, mail e folli progetti, solo in parte finora realizzati. Scrivono oggi nella rivista alcune delle migliori penne del blog, donando una vista ampia e profonda a temi di letteratura, editoria e scrittura. Sono affrontati anche altri aspetti della cultura in generale, con un occhio critico verso la società contemporanea. Per ora la webzine rimane nei bit informatici, l’obiettivo è migliorarla prima di ulteriori sviluppi.

L’agenzia letteraria

L’agenzia letteraria Sul Romanzo nasce nel dicembre del 2010 per fornire a privati e aziende numerosi servizi, divisi in tre sezioni: editoria, web ed eventi. Un team di professionisti del settore che affianca studi ed esperienze strutturate nel tempo, in grado di garantire qualità e prezzi vantaggiosi nel mercato. Un ponte fra autori, case editrici e lettori, perché la strada del successo d’un libro si scrive in primo luogo con una strategia di percorso, come la scelta di affidarsi agli addetti ai lavori.