What is a word or phrase that sums up the characteristic or quality of "sprezzatura"? What is a word or phrase that sums up the characteristic or quality of "sprezzatura" in today's "well-rounded"...

What is a word or phrase that sums up the characteristic or quality of "sprezzatura"?

What is a word or phrase that sums up the characteristic or quality of "sprezzatura" in today's "well-rounded" person, and what is a characterization of this ideal of a well-rounded person?

Castiglione’s concept of sprezzatura was an attempt to summarize the ideal of the educated courtier. Is there a word or phrase that would best sum up the character of the well-rounded person today?

 Do we have a similar ideal?

 If so, how would you characterize it?

 If not, why not?

4 Answers | Add Yours

kplhardison's profile pic

Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

As far as I can tell, we have no similar concept today that, in one word or phrase, sums up the ideal of a well educated, courteous, kind, courageous, yielding, man who gives fealty to a central idea, person, love, or leader. In America today (I'm assuming the "we" of the question refers to "we" Americans), we do not value these qualities. Instead, we value--more and more deeply through society--what linguistics call "negative prestige." "Prestige" is that which gives one the qualities akin to sprezzatura, qualities of an ideal man. "Negative prestige" is that which threatens or denigrates but to which one is drawn anyway through social forces or (most often) from feelings of threat or fear.

In other words, our society idealizes the "bad boy," the "rock star," the "real man" who doesn't dance or attend the symphony or the opera. I think the term used today to describe a cultured man of good breeding and good manners who has elegant taste and sophistication and keen, well trained intellect would be the out-cast term "geek" or maybe "nerd" because we do not any longer value these qualities in America. As an afterthought, England's Prince William might be seen as the embodiment of the contemporary man (strong, brave, outdoorsy, disciplined, leader) with the sprezzatura qualities of the courtier of old. Not a bad model to aspire toward!

Sources:
tinicraw's profile pic

tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

It is interesting to note that "Sprezzatura" is not found in our dictionary, so thanks for the wikipedia link #2! It is an Italian word that means nonchalance, or acting like nothing bugs you and you are capable of doing anything even though you might fear it inside; you just don't let on that you are scared. I think we all do this at different times in life where it is socially unacceptable to show weakness. So the question is: is it ok to show weakness and still be well-rounded? Can well-rounded people keep everything in and ignore their fears and still be happy. With all of the therapists in business today, it wouldn't seem like well-rounded people, or anyone, could really just hide their fears forever and still be "well-rounded."

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think you might not have gotten an answer because people are not exactly sure what you are asking.  Sprezzatura can be a good quality in a well-rounded person.  You do not always want to let people know what you are thinking.  For example, one word I can think of is polite.  If a person has the quality of sprezzatura and does not like a birthday gift, for example, no one would know because the person hides his or her feelings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprezzatura

sarcasticbrunette's profile pic

sarcasticbrunette | Student | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

I think you might not have gotten an answer because people are not exactly sure what you are asking.  Sprezzatura can be a good quality in a well-rounded person.  You do not always want to let people know what you are thinking.  For example, one word I can think of is polite.  If a person has the quality of sprezzatura and does not like a birthday gift, for example, no one would know because the person hides his or her feelings.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprezzatura

Thank you for responding! I agree my question was vague at best and probably does not make much sense. I had to edit the original question as enotes would not let me post that many characters. I apologize. Below is the queston in its entirety. I am complete clueless as to what my instructor is asking so I would greatly appreciate any help.

Castiglione’s concept of sprezzatura was an attempt to summarize the ideal of the educated courtier. Is there a word or phrase that would best sum up the character of the well-rounded person today?

 Do we have a similar ideal?

 If so, how would you characterize it?

 If not, why not?

 

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