A strand of popular heterodoxy endured, half-surfacing as superstition, the secret worship of polytheistic deities and even the practice of magic. But among the results of Sicily’s incorporation into the Spanish Empire was that it was barely affected by Renaissance humanism. Being part of the empire did, however, shield it from the worst effects of the decline in Mediterranean trade prompted by the colonisation of the Americas. And, after Sicily became part of the Kingdom of Naples, it got a whiff of the Enlightenment, thanks to the Bourbon monarch who would become Charles III of Spain. A second apparent liberation, by Giuseppe Garibaldi and a small army of Italian nationalists, again turned sour: Italy’s new, Piedmontese rulers bungled the peace that followed, and Sicily’s nascent Mafia exploited the chaos.
Mr Mackay is at his best when he weaves concise descriptions of customs, social changes, legends and cultural glories through this tumultuous narrative. Artistically, Sicily’s historical relationship with the Italian mainland bears some similarity to Ireland’s with Britain: an island with a disproportionately small middle class, sandwiched between a vast, uneducated peasantry and a landowning aristocracy largely indifferent to culture, which nevertheless produced a string of literary, artistic and musical giants. Vincenzo Bellini, Giovanni Verga, Luigi Pirandello, Leonardo Sciascia, Renato Guttuso, Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa and, most recently, Andrea Camilleri, were all Sicilians.
The author is at his worst when he fails to check his facts and verify his assertions. He appears to take as historically reliable the legendary founding date of Rome, describes the Benedictines and Jesuits as “sects” and makes Oscar Luigi Scalfaro prime minister of Italy, a post Mr Scalfaro never held. These are unfortunate missteps in an enjoyable canter across a history, and a place, which are entrancing and disturbing by turns.
1.A strand of popular heterodoxy endured, half-surfacing as superstition, the secret worship of polytheistic deities and even the practice of magic.
a strand of 一串，一系列
eg.She was wearing a strand of crystal beads.
【常见搭配】a strand of hair 一缕头发
2.Being part of the empire did, however, shield it from the worst effects of the decline in Mediterranean trade prompted by the colonisation of the Americas.
eg.You can't shield her from the truth forever.
【常见搭配】face shield 防护面罩