How does an Italian become Italian?
Or an Englishman English, for that matter?
Are foreigners born, or made?
In An Italian Education Tim Parks focuses on his own young children in the small village near Verona where he lives, building a fascinating picture of the contemporary Italian family at school, at home, at work and at play.
The result is a delight: at once a family book and a travel book, not quite enamoured with either children or Italy, but always affectionate, always amused and always amusing.
In Italian Neighbors, British-born Parks gave a wry portrait of his adopted Italy, where he lives with his native-born wife Rita in a village outside Verona. This engaging sequel is an affectionate family album focusing on the experience of raising their son, Michele, and daughter, Stefania, combined with general observations on childrearing practices in Italy. Parks believes the typical Italian child is born into a tight social matrix of caution, inhibition and a suffocating awareness of everything that can go wrong. For Italians, ``pregnancy is, inescapably, a pathology,'' and the intense mother-child relationship, suffused with eroticism, often produces young men with ``an extraordinarily inflated, mother-fed opinion of themselves.'' Beyond parenting, Parks serves up pungent cultural commentary. His Italy is a paradox, where an ancient mentality steeped in peasant Catholic traditions coexists with a hedonistic society that eagerly embraces all things modern. Parks's wit, eye for telling incident and sensuous prose make this a captivating family portrait.
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An Italian Education
An engaging insight into Italian child-rearing, and the Parks family. An education for the reader too.