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Heart: A School-Boy's Journal by Edmondo De…
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Heart: A School-Boy's Journal (1886)

by Edmondo De Amicis

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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English (7)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  All (10)
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Ancora piango se si penso! ( )
  cloentrelibros | Aug 23, 2016 |
"Cuore" means "Heart" in Italian. This "classic" book by Edmondo De Amicis describes the life of an Italian school class a few years before 1900, as seen through the eyes of a boy, Enrico.

Given that the book was published in 1886, and was later utilized for political propaganda by various governments, not only in Italy, there are some fascinating aspects to the book's history. But before touching on that, I'd like to say this is at its core a very poetic, touching little book. So despite all the political and ridiculously patriotic themes, I really liked it as it stands as a fine portrait of pure feelings, and innocence. Some readers found it sad, I didn't. The author explained how he was inspired to write it by his own son, Furio, and his love for school.

The book reads as an utopistic and moralistic fable. Everything and everyone in "Cuore" is idealized - the book was meant to teach school kids the moral values and model behaviours of an idealized Italian citizen. To better understand the source of these values, we need to consider that De Amicis was part of the Italian elite, and his father held a high government post. The people who engineered the unification of Italy in 1860 had one common arch-enemy: the Pope and the Church, who opposed the inclusion of Rome in the new Kingdom of Italy. As a consequence, the school kids in "Cuore" spend their entire school year without ever mentioning, thinking, seeing, or going to a church, which is clearly unrealistic given that (for good and for bad) the Catholic Church has always had an immense influence in the day to day life of Italians. Even Christmas is totally ignored!

Interesting fact: the book was taught in many Italian schools, and that's often enough to make you hate a book: "Oh, God, not "Cuore"!!"

Back to the political themes: it's not too clear whether De Amicis wrote this as pure propaganda for the King, or that was just part of the process. One thing is for sure: according to this book, the perfect kid is the one who sacrifices his own life for his nation and his King. I like to think that this was just a reflection of the author's beliefs, after all patriotism did make sense in those times (personal note: today it doesn't. Ok to be proud of your country, stupid to be irrational about it and think that your country's citizens are "better" than anybody else).

Through its sensitivity to social issues such as poverty, "Cuore" has been initially linked to left-wing ideologies. De Amicis was later to join the Italian Socialist Party. Because of this, the book remained influential in countries of the Eastern Bloc. However, its patriotic message was later adopted by Mussolini's government and there are still people who remember "Cuore" being used as fascist propaganda.

In conclusion, I don't know what the author's true purpose was, I just want to remember this book in a good light. Many Italians, when reading this book, comment "These were times when values still mattered!". I don't think that is correct at all. A more precise statement, in my opinion, would be that "Cuore" reminds us of a time when things were much simpler than today, and, as a consequence, it was easier for everybody to point out the right and the wrong.

Despite the soppiness, and the utopistic and moralistic tendencies, "Cuore" is still a very poetic and inspirational book. ( )
  tabascofromgudreads | Apr 19, 2014 |
"Cuore" means "Heart" in Italian. This "classic" book by Edmondo De Amicis describes the life of an Italian school class a few years before 1900, as seen through the eyes of a boy, Enrico.

Given that the book was published in 1886, and was later utilized for political propaganda by various governments, not only in Italy, there are some fascinating aspects to the book's history. But before touching on that, I'd like to say this is at its core a very poetic, touching little book. So despite all the political and ridiculously patriotic themes, I really liked it as it stands as a fine portrait of pure feelings, and innocence. Some readers found it sad, I didn't. The author explained how he was inspired to write it by his own son, Furio, and his love for school.

The book reads as an utopistic and moralistic fable. Everything and everyone in "Cuore" is idealized - the book was meant to teach school kids the moral values and model behaviours of an idealized Italian citizen. To better understand the source of these values, we need to consider that De Amicis was part of the Italian elite, and his father held a high government post. The people who engineered the unification of Italy in 1860 had one common arch-enemy: the Pope and the Church, who opposed the inclusion of Rome in the new Kingdom of Italy. As a consequence, the school kids in "Cuore" spend their entire school year without ever mentioning, thinking, seeing, or going to a church, which is clearly unrealistic given that (for good and for bad) the Catholic Church has always had an immense influence in the day to day life of Italians. Even Christmas is totally ignored!

Interesting fact: the book was taught in many Italian schools, and that's often enough to make you hate a book: "Oh, God, not "Cuore"!!"

Back to the political themes: it's not too clear whether De Amicis wrote this as pure propaganda for the King, or that was just part of the process. One thing is for sure: according to this book, the perfect kid is the one who sacrifices his own life for his nation and his King. I like to think that this was just a reflection of the author's beliefs, after all patriotism did make sense in those times (personal note: today it doesn't. Ok to be proud of your country, stupid to be irrational about it and think that your country's citizens are "better" than anybody else).

Through its sensitivity to social issues such as poverty, "Cuore" has been initially linked to left-wing ideologies. De Amicis was later to join the Italian Socialist Party. Because of this, the book remained influential in countries of the Eastern Bloc. However, its patriotic message was later adopted by Mussolini's government and there are still people who remember "Cuore" being used as fascist propaganda.

In conclusion, I don't know what the author's true purpose was, I just want to remember this book in a good light. Many Italians, when reading this book, comment "These were times when values still mattered!". I don't think that is correct at all. A more precise statement, in my opinion, would be that "Cuore" reminds us of a time when things were much simpler than today, and, as a consequence, it was easier for everybody to point out the right and the wrong.

Despite the soppiness, and the utopistic and moralistic tendencies, "Cuore" is still a very poetic and inspirational book. ( )
  tabascofromgudreads | Apr 19, 2014 |
I read this novel when I was a child and I have always carried it deep in the back of my mind. The story is seen through the eyes of Enrico, a school boy in 19th century Italy. Reality is not disguised as in American children's books. Enrico witnesses sudden deaths, disease, punishment, poverty, not happening to his family but to school mates and neighbors.
1 vote librisalexandria | May 29, 2010 |
I read this novel when I was a child and I have always carried it deep in the back of my mind. The story is seen through the eyes of Enrico, a school boy in 19th century Italy. Reality is not disguised as in American children's books. Enrico witnesses sudden deaths, disease, punishment, poverty, not happening to his family but to school mates and neighbors. This issue has the original illustrations that my childhood copy had. ( )
  librisalexandria | Apr 16, 2010 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (96 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Edmondo De Amicisprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brink, M. tenTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ferraguti, ArnaldoIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hartley, DesmondTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Nardi, EnricoIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pearson, NickCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seiffert, W.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Important events
Related movies
Cuore (1984TVIMDb)
Cuore (2001TVIMDb)
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Epigraph
Dedication
This book is specially dedicated to children in the elementary schools between the ages of nine and thirteen, and it could be called 'The Story of a School Year, Written by a Third Year Pupil in an Italian Council School'. When I say written by a third-year pupil, I do not mean to say that he himself wrote it exactly as printed. He wrote down little by little in an exercise book as well as he could what he had seen, heard and thought in and out of school; and at the end of the year, using those notes, his father wrote these pages, taking care not to change the thoughts and, as far as possible, using his son's own words. The boy then reread the manuscript four years later when he was already at the grammar school and made his own additions using memories still fresh of people and things. Now read this book, children. I hope that you will be pleased with it and profit from it.
First words
Today is the first day of school.
Quotations
Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Rispetta la strada. L'educazione di un popolo si giudica innanzi tutto dal contegno ch'egli tiene per la strada. Dove troverai villanie per le strade troverai villanie nelle case.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0543887243, Paperback)

This Elibron Classics book is a facsimile reprint of a 1913 edition by Fratelli Treves, Milano.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:00 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

An Italian boy records his thoughts and feelings inside and outside of school during one year.

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