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Between Salt Water and Holy Water: A History of Southern Italy

por Tommaso Astarita

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"Both the Romans and the Greeks were attracted to the dramatically beautiful coasts and fertile plains of the region later known as "The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies." In fact, all myriad influences that shaped modern civilization in the Mediterranean come together in southern Italy and Sicily. The world's first secular university was founded in Naples. Many of the elements of Italian culture as we now know it in the rest of the world - from comic opera to pizza - were born in the South. Art and music flourished there, as did progressive ideas about education, tolerance, and civic administration." "Native Neopolitan and distinguished scholar Tommaso Astarita gives us a history both erudite and full of personality - from the freethinking, cosmopolitan King Frederick who conferred with Jewish and Muslim philosophers (and dared to meet with the sultan) to the fisherman Masaniello who inspired artists and revolutionaries across Europe. From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, Naples was on a par with Paris, one of the largest and most cultured cities in Europe."--BOOK JACKET.… (mais)
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Astarita doceert geschiedenis in de USA maar is een geboren Napolitaan, en dat merk je duidelijk in dit boek. Zijn geschiedenis van zuidelijk Italië is vooral een geschiedenis van Napels en van Sicilië. Andere zuidelijke regio's komen echt te weinig aan bod. Toch dient gezegd dat hij een goed geschreven overzicht geeft van het land dat door Ferdinand II, één van zijn vele koningen, werd benoemd als een eiland dat aan drie zijden beschermd wordt door zout water (= drie zeeën) en aan een zijde door heilig water (= de pauselijke staten). Astarita overloopt vrij chronologisch de vele invasies en buitenlandse overheersers die dit land heeft moeten doorstaan. Grieken, Carthagers, Romeinen, Longobarden, Byzantijnen, Normandiërs, Arabieren, Duitsers, Fransen, Spanjaarden en Oostenrijkers in continue afwisseling met elkaar. Dat vele van deze overheersers ook de Zuidelijke Nederlanden aan hun gezag onderwierpen en er een stempel op achterlieten, gaf voor mij als Belg een extra verwantschap met deze geschiedenis.
Astarita gaat vooral in op de verschillende dynastiëen (met genealogische overzichten achter in het boek) die zuidelijk Italië tot wingewest maakten maar het uiteindelijk verarmd en onderontwikkeld achterlieten, met misschien enkel de Normandische periode als multiculturele uitzondering. Voor sociale en economische aspecten heeft hij ook wel aandacht maar toch iets minder. En omdat het een tijdsperiode van meer dan 2000 jaar omvat, kan het niet anders dan bij momenten wat grote sprongen maken en heel wat details veronachtzamen. Maar toch... Astarti heeft er een mooi, goed leesbaar en fascinerend overzicht van gemaakt dat de moeite waard is voor wie meer wil begrijpen van de Italiaanse breuklijn tussen noord en zuid. ( )
  rvdm61 | Aug 14, 2012 |
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"Both the Romans and the Greeks were attracted to the dramatically beautiful coasts and fertile plains of the region later known as "The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies." In fact, all myriad influences that shaped modern civilization in the Mediterranean come together in southern Italy and Sicily. The world's first secular university was founded in Naples. Many of the elements of Italian culture as we now know it in the rest of the world - from comic opera to pizza - were born in the South. Art and music flourished there, as did progressive ideas about education, tolerance, and civic administration." "Native Neopolitan and distinguished scholar Tommaso Astarita gives us a history both erudite and full of personality - from the freethinking, cosmopolitan King Frederick who conferred with Jewish and Muslim philosophers (and dared to meet with the sultan) to the fisherman Masaniello who inspired artists and revolutionaries across Europe. From the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, Naples was on a par with Paris, one of the largest and most cultured cities in Europe."--BOOK JACKET.

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