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Cuore by Edmondo De Amicis
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Cuore (1886)

by Edmondo De Amicis

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English (6)  Spanish (2)  Italian (1)  All languages (9)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
"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 |
After it was issued in 1886, the success of Cuore was immense: in a few months it was printed in 40 Italian editions and translated into tens of languages.

I have now read or skimmed the book anew. In the Czech preface we are told that "its aim is to prompt the youth to a love of one's country, to love school, to honour work and above all to esteem the sacrifices of one's parents." Its account of a year in the life of a twelve year-old Italian boy is composed of tales of life in the classroom, (there are 54 boys in the class!), in the streets of Turin, the interactions in the protagonist's family and the tale of the month.

De Amicis is masterful in tugging at the heartstrings, in his appeal to emotionalism. A young boy being scolded by his grandmother heroically saves her life, dying himself, by throwing himself in front of her as she is about to be killed by a robber, in one of the monthly tales. Another boy travels across the Atlantic by himself in search of his momma, and after months of great tribulations finds her as she is turning down a life-saving operation. Hope is restored for her, and she lives. The protagonist himself (Jindrich in Czech, Enrique in the Italian) receives letters from his father, mother, sister in the course of the year taking him to task for his rudeness or lack of affection shown by him to another family member, urging him to beg forgiveness, which is granted. The plight of the blind, the mute and especially the poor is shown us in heart-wrenching excess.

For the ten to fifteen year-olds of all ages, of all times, the book is enormously appealing. Didactic, black-and-white morality, heroism, patriotism, with a generous pouring of sugary affection.

As Professor Higgins says in Pygmalion, "how ghastly! how delightful!"
2 vote polutropos | Apr 11, 2009 |
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» Add other authors (96 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Edmondo De Amicisprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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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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.
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Today is the first day of school.
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Information from the Italian Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:44:51 -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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