Gli occhi a fior di pelle, lucidi e sfrontati

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mimitabby

Senior Member
usa, english
Gli occhi a fior di pelle, lucidi e sfrontati

This is a description of a man's face in a Moravia book

what could this mean, eyes flowering on his skin??
 
  • Manuel_M

    Senior Member
    Maltese
    I was not familair with either 'occhi a fior di pelle" or 'bug-eyed' , but I have to say that while the English expression sounds quite horrible, the Italian one is more than faintly poetic. What a beautiful language!
     

    PANGRAIL2

    New Member
    English - American
    I too stumbled on the phrase at least twice in Moravia's Racconti Romani. The second occurence is in his novella Il Terrore di Roma:

    «...giovanotto basso, con ... gli occhi a fior di pelle e le labbra sporgenti.»

    Not meaning to add to the confusion, but one of my Italian dictionaries (Cassell's / ed Rebora) gives the definition:

    «a fior di pelle» (adv) "superficially"!

    Aiuta noialtri!

    PANGRAIL2
     

    PANGRAIL2

    New Member
    English - American
    I too stumbled on the phrase at least twice in Moravia's Racconti Romani. The second occurence is in his novella Il Terrore di Roma:

    «...giovanotto basso, con ... gli occhi a fior di pelle e le labbra sporgenti.»

    Not meaning to add to the confusion, but one of my Italian dictionaries (Cassell's / ed Rebora) gives the definition:

    «a fior di pelle» (adv) "superficially"!

    Aiuta noialtri!


    PANGRAIL2
    WORDREFERENCE.COM now gives the meaning to the phrase a fior di pelle: as a noun phrase, a sensual pleasure, as an adjective (this example) it means tightly strung or on edge, which seems to describe Moravia's character
     

    michaill

    Member
    English - US
    Can someone paraphrase in Italian "Ha gli occhi a fior di pelle"? What does it tell you exactly?
    Ha i nervi a fior di pelle can mean "He's on edge/a nervous wreck/a bundle of nerves". But what about gli occhi?
     

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    I think it means the opposite of what we'd call in English "deep-set eyes" -- i.e., eyes that are set in shallow rather than deep eye sockets. It's easy enough to picture such eyes, but while "shallow-set eyes" or "shallow eyes" does seem to be a term used by people talking about eye makeup, it's not commonly used to describe someone, the way gli occhi a fior di pelle is (at least in books, etc.).
     

    ohbice

    Senior Member
    Credo di concordare, occhi a fior di pelle è l'opposto di occhi incassati. Occhi superficiali che quasi sporgono in avanti rispetto al contorno.
    In particolare non credo che occhi a fior di pelle possa avere significari reconditi, è una pura constatazione dell'aspetto e non sottointende stati d'animo (al contrario di quel che succede per nervi a fior di pelle)
     
    Last edited:

    theartichoke

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    Protruding eyes, which reverso renders as occhi sporgenti
    Do native speakers see a difference, though, between occhi sporgenti and occhi a fior di pelle? For me, protruding eyes, like the more informal bug eyes that someone mentioned above, convey an image that's decidedly unattractive. Deep-set eyes are neither attractive nor unattractive in and of themselves, and I feel that occhi a fior di pelle is a similarly neutral description of a physical characteristic (one we don't have an idiomatic term for in English), whereas occhi sporgenti is not. I could be wrong, though, so am curious to hear what ohbice and others think.
     

    Diddl

    Senior Member
    Italian -Italy
    Do native speakers see a difference, though, between occhi sporgenti and occhi a fior di pelle? For me, protruding eyes, like the more informal bug eyes that someone mentioned above, convey an image that's decidedly unattractive.
    Well, actually, I hear a difference between "occhi sporgenti" and "occhi a fior di pelle". In the first place, the latter is much more literary. Furthermore, "occhi sporgenti" is only a physical feature, whereas "occhi a fior di pelle" conjures up a more disquieting image. It makes me think of a person who has wide-open, protruding eyes, because he's extremely nervous, feverish, or even dangerous.
     

    michaill

    Member
    English - US
    "occhi a fior di pelle" conjures up a more disquieting image. It makes me think of a person who has wide-open, protruding eyes, because he's extremely nervous, feverish, or even dangerous.
    That disagrees with
    non credo che occhi a fior di pelle possa avere significari reconditi, è una pura constatazione dell'aspetto e non sottointende stati d'animo (al contrario di quel che succede per nervi a fior di pelle)
     

    Diddl

    Senior Member
    Italian -Italy
    That disagrees with
    I might be a little mislead by the similarity of "nervi a fior di pelle" as well. But on the whole, the sentence makes me think of a person whose eyes are protruding because of psychological reasons. Something like the Italian humorous expression "occhi spiritati"
     

    london calling

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I might be a little mislead by the similarity of "nervi a fior di pelle" as well. But on the whole, the sentence makes me think of a person whose eyes are protruding because of psychological reasons. Something like the Italian humorous expression "occhi spiritati"
    This is how I've always understood it too. He had a mad look in his eyes.
     

    ohbice

    Senior Member
    Do native speakers see a difference, though, between occhi sporgenti and occhi a fior di pelle? For me, protruding eyes, like the more informal bug eyes that someone mentioned above, convey an image that's decidedly unattractive. Deep-set eyes are neither attractive nor unattractive in and of themselves, and I feel that occhi a fior di pelle is a similarly neutral description of a physical characteristic (one we don't have an idiomatic term for in English), whereas occhi sporgenti is not. I could be wrong, though, so am curious to hear what ohbice and others think.
    Il problema per me si risolve leggendo il contesto. Sia occhi sporgenti, sia occhi a fior di pelle possono essere una semplice descrizione oppure qualcosa in più.
    Nel caso dell'o. p. tendo a propendere per la mera descrizione delle caratteristiche fisiologiche perché a mio parere il "di più", ovvero la caratterizzazione del personaggio, è data dagli aggettivi "lucidi e sfrontati". È possibile che in un contesto diverso pure la mia interpretazione cambi ;-)
     
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