Lifestyle is a broad category that covers a wide range of characteristics and traits. These include beliefs, behaviors, and opinions of an individual, social group, or society. The word was first introduced by Austrian psychiatrist Alfred Adler in his famous book, The Case of Miss R. With the implied meaning of “the basic nature of a human being as established at birth”. It then became an important concept to the study of psychology, sociology, and behavioral science.
The study of lifestyles traces its roots back to the early years of the twentieth century, when sociologist William Julius Wilson drew attention to differences in people’s life-styles and asked the question “What is the nature of a typical American family?” The book of Wilson, The Making of America’s Future, galvanized the debate about the direction of American life-styles and their implications for national culture and policy. With this fresh perspective, social scientists sought to determine the sources of social conflict and how they related to larger cultural and political trends.
Theodor Adorno used a number of criteria to define a “healthy” lifestyle. He considered it necessary to respect and pay attention to the mass culture, in order to realize the full potential of modernity. According to Adorno, a meaningful life-style is one characterized by a deep engagement in the affairs of the world as a whole, and a willingness to transcend the petty concerns of the day to an overall view of humanity and its relations to the world and other people. Adorno further argued that these values could be learned and established through disciplined practice, and that resistance to these values is often genetically inherited.
In Stili Di Vita, translated by Kevin Dunn and adapted for use in the United States by Mark Lendler, we follow the life style of Christopher Columbus as he arrives in Spain following his first voyage of discovery. Like most European voyages, Columbus’s was not without its failures. As he set sail from Spain to introduce the new world to European culture, he brought with him some Europeans who had different life styles and different understandings of the way they should live. One such person was Christopher Columbus’s mother, Isabella d’EPiplano. As a result of this mixing of cultures, Columbus’s approach to life and society was quite different than the ways that he had established for himself in his native Spain.
Isabella d’EPiplano strove to change her son’s outlook on life and society by sending him away to a school based in Barcelona, where he would learn the language and culture of the Spanish people. While at the school, Christopher also made contact with members of his new society, many of whom he would know later as his friends, fellow students, and colleagues in the stile di vita. In particular, the novel revolves around the friendship of Joam Garral, who Columbus met while still in school. Joam is a young male who becomes Columbus’ lover and later his friend and first mate in the stile de camaraderie.
Through the characters in the stile de camaraderie, as well as other Spanish sailors and traders, Columbus was able to map out the westward expansion of the European Empire. Through his readings of the Spanish grammar and literature, he came to see the need for a healthy lifestyle more than any other Europeans before him. Healthy lifestyles include good diets, plenty of water, and regular exercise. These are all included in the balanced life plan that Columbus introduced to his new world. The novel offers a unique view of what it means to have a lifestyle of abundance, as well as an examination of how essential it is to maintain that lifestyle throughout one’s life.