Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Word of the day: Sprezzatura

At The School of Life, Nick Southgate explains this lovely concept:

... In 1528 Italian noble Baldassare Castiglione wrote a small manual of advice about desirable conduct in the Renaissance court, an arena every bit as conscious of success as any in the modern day. The Book of The Courtier urges the importance of the value of what Castiglione calls sprezzatura. His advice is “to practice in all things a certain sprezzatura, so as to conceal all art and make whatever is done or said appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.”

However, we shouldn’t just note that Castiglione’s sprezzatura is about the importance of being effortless, but that it emphasises appearing to be effortless, and concealing the effort that goes into what we do. For how ever beguiling the spell of sprezzatura it has a paradox at its heart – it’s a lot of hard work. [Bold emphasis added]