HomeLiterature Study GuidesEat Pray LoveBook 1 Chapters 13 15 Summary

Eat, Pray, Love | Study Guide

Elizabeth Gilbert

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Eat, Pray, Love | Book 1, Chapters 13–15 | Summary

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Summary

Book 1, Chapter 13

In her now familiar self-deprecatory way, Gilbert explains that she is not a very good traveler, even though she's been on six continents. She says she is too blond and tall and pink to fit in to most cultures. She never plans well, and so she often looks like she is fumbling around. Her digestive system often suffers, and she has other physical problems. Yet she loves to travel and thinks it is "worth any cost or sacrifice." In addition, she "can make friends with anybody." To speed up that process during this trip, she has asked all of her friends to try to connect her with any friends they have in Italy, India, or Indonesia. The contact she is most interested in meeting in Italy is named Luca Spaghetti.

Book 1, Chapter 14

Gilbert pens this chapter on the day her Italian classes at the Leonardo da Vinci Academy of Language Studies begin. Being a proud, overachieving student, she hopes to land in at least Level Two of classes when she takes the placement test. She finds the test very difficult, but is pleased when she does, in fact, get assigned to Level Two.

Her first class is that afternoon. Immediately she knows it is way over her head, so she asks to be moved down to Level One. She is much more comfortable in that class.

Book 1, Chapter 15

Twelve students are in Gilbert's Italian class. All of them are taking Italian simply because they want to. In this chapter Gilbert explains how this "most seductively beautiful language in the world" developed.

Because Italy was historically such a divided country, it "never properly coalesced, and Italian didn't either." Finally, in the 16th century, Italian intellectuals decided one dialect should be made the standard one called Italian, and they set themselves the task of selecting the most beautiful of them. The language they chose was that of Florentine poet Dante Alighieri, author of the Divine Comedy (1321)—the vernacular spoken by the residents of Florence at that time. As Gilbert puts it, Italian has "an artistic pedigree."

Analysis

One of the most characteristic aspects of Eat, Pray, Love is that it provides readers with so much factual information, without making any of it feel like a lesson. Gilbert's breezy style and obvious delight in the topics she knows enough about to share make her enthusiasm for topics like the history of the Italian language contagious.

Given her love of learning and her gifts as a writer, Gilbert is a serious student of Italian. She thinks it would be "humiliating" to be placed in Level One classes even though she herself constantly admits she struggles to put an Italian sentence together. It's easy for Gilbert to feel like a failure when, at any time—personally, professionally, or in any other realm of life—she falls short of perfection.

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