The Dark Heart of Italy

Tobias Jones

North Point Press

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In 1999 Tobias Jones immigrated to Italy, expecting to discover the pastoral bliss described by centuries of foreign visitors. Instead, he found a very different country: one besieged by unfathomable terrorism and deep-seated paranoia. The Dark Heart of Italy is Jones's account of his four-year voyage across the Italian peninsula.

Jones writes not just about Italy's art, climate, and cuisine but also about the much livelier and stranger sides of the Bel Paese: the language, soccer, Catholicism, cinema, television, and terrorism. Why, he wonders, does the parliament need a "slaughter commission"? Why do bombs still explode every time politics start getting serious? Why does everyone urge him to go home as soon as possible, saying that Italy is a "brothel"? Most of all, why does one man, Silvio Berlusconi--in the words of a famous song--appear to own everything from Padre Nostro (Our Father) to Cosa Nostra (the Mafia)?

The Italy that emerges from Jones's travels is a country scarred by civil wars and "illustrious corpses"; a country that is proudly visual rather than verbal, based on aesthetics rather than ethics; a country where crime is hardly ever followed by punishment; a place of incredible illusionism, where it is impossible to distinguish fantasy from reality and fact from fiction.

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Book Excerpts

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The Dark Heart of Italy
1"PAROLE, PAROLE, PAROLE" 
 
The Latin is attentive, sensitive to the perfection of form. Italian lit- erature is, from this point of view, exemplary for its academic, for- mal character, concerned with the perfection of expression and of language. Italian life, particularly political life, is difficult to un- derstand if one overlooks this point. The declarations of political men, and parliamentary debate, are invariably aimed not towards the setting out and resolution of concrete problems, the reaching of useful ends, but towards creating images .

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Reviews

Praise for The Dark Heart of Italy

"Tobias Jones had me seduced before I finished his preface. He writes about the dark side of Italian life with a very light touch, examining the warts with impartial and carefully researched dismay, leavened on occasion by a truly Italian love of hyperbole, and balanced by a contagious enthusiasm for all the pleasures that bind the expatriate to Italy." --Mary Taylor Simeti, author of On Persephone's Island

"Italy is a country that is as complex as it is beautiful, and Jones wonderfully captures the fascinating contradictions of Italy and the Italians. He’s got the compassionate distance of an outsider, but the critical eye and insight of someone who has lived there for years." --Mark Rotella, author of Stolen Figs

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About the Author

Tobias Jones

Tobias Jones studied at Jesus College, Oxford. He was on the staff of the London Review of Books and of The Independent on Sunday before moving, in 1999, to Parma, Italy.

Tobias Jones

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Available Formats and Book Details

The Dark Heart of Italy
Tobias Jones

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
North Point Press
May 2005
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781466804517
ISBN10: 1466804513
336 pages
$7.99

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
North Point Press
June 2005
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780865477247
ISBN10: 0865477248
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 336 pages
$22.00
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