Fate and Honour, Family and Village
Demographic and Cultural Change in Rural Italy Since 1800
By (author) Rudolph M. Bell
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Fate and Honour, Family and Village by Rudolph M. Bell
Book DescriptionThe Italian peasantry has often been described as tragic, backward, hopeless, downtrodden, static, and passive. In "Fate and Honor, Family and Village," Rudolph Bell argues against the characterizationmore by reconstructing the complete demographic history of four country villages since 1800. He analyzes births, marriages, and deaths in terms of four concepts that capture mroe accurately and sympathetically the essence of the Italian peasant life: "fortuna "(fate), "onore" (honor, dignity), "famiglia" (family), and "campanilismo" (village). "Fortuna "is the cultural wellspring of Italian peasant society, the world view from which all social life flows. The concept of "fortuna "does not refer to philosophical questions, predestination, or value judgments. Rather, fortuna is the sum total of all explanations of outcomes perceived to be beyond human control. Thus, in Bell's view, high mortality does not lead peasants to a resigned acceptance of their fate; instead, they rely on honor, reciprocal exchanges of favors, and marriage to forge new links in their familial and social networks. With thorough documentation in graphs and tables, the author evaluates peasant reactions to time, work, family, space, migration, and protest to portray rural Italians as active, flexible, and shrewd, participating fully in shaping their destinies. Bell asserts that the real problem of the Mezzogiorno is not one of resistance to technology, of high birth rates, or even of illiteracy. It is one of solving technical questions in ways that foster dependency. The historical and sociological practice of treating peasant culture as backward, secondary, and circumscribed only encourages disruption and ultimately blocks the road to economic and political justice in a postmodern world.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780226042084
(250mm x 200mm x 21mm)
Imprint: University of Chicago Press
Publisher: The University of Chicago Press
Publish Date: 1-Dec-1979
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Rudolph M. Bell
Voices of Gemma Galgani, Hardback (February 2003)
Gemma Galgani was the first person who lived in the 21st century to become a saint. Bell and Mazzoni have chosen and translated the most important of Gemma's words and contextualize her life and passions. The authors also discuss the complicated process of her canonization.
Culture, Genre and Literary Vocation, Paperback (November 2000)
This work charts the important and often overlooked connection between literary culture and authors' careers. Bell revisits issues of genre with an eye toward the unexpected details of authors' lives.
How to Do it, Paperback (October 2000)
This work shows 16th-century Italy from an alternative perspective: through advice manuals which were staples in the households of middlebrow Italians just trying to lead a better life.
Holy Anorexia, Paperback (June 1987)» View all books by Rudolph M. Bell
An account which compares the contemporary anorexic teenager, counting every calorie in her single-minded pursuit of thinness, and the ascetic medieval saint, examining her every desire.
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Author Biography - Rudolph M. Bell
Rudolph M. Bell is professor of history at Rutgers University. He is the author of "Party and Fraction in American Politics."
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