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on November 7, 2001
This is a memoir of a year spent in exile in 1930s facist Italy. Carlo Levi ,anti-facist, is exiled to a small poor village in southern Italy. When the villagers say Christ stopped at Eboli, a village located northeast of theirs, they mean that civilization never made it this far. Levi's prose descriptions are smooth and mostly free of authorial intrusion. He turns what could be a grim situation, after all he is a prisoner in the village, into a cherished part of his life.
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on April 2, 2004
This brilliant book is an account of Carlo Levi's banishment to a remote village in southern Italy for his opposition to Fascism in 1935. The title may be a bit misleading: this book is not about an incarnation of the deity that alighted in a place called Eboli. Eboli, a town of no consequence to the action of the book, is, rather, the farthest south Christianity (read: civilization) got. Gagliano, the town in which Levi arrives to carry out his exile, is as far south from Eboli as Eboli is from Naples, and is the end of the road in more than one respect.
In Gagliano, Levi lives a somewhat enviable (for an exile, at least) existence painting, writing, and, as a doctor, administering to the sick and injured. But the book is not about Levi's good works among the peasants. Rather, it is a series of sublime sketches about a people so grim, so primitive, so impoverished, so imbued with superstition and pagan ritual (Gagliano has a village priest, but he's drunk most of the time) that they seem an alien species. Levi doesn't so much understand them as observe them and paint them with words.
Levi's artistic gifts extend to his descriptions, and phrases such as " a streak of white at the summit of a bare hill" make the book come alive. It is clear that Frances Frenaye, the translator, deserves no small credit in this respect. This is a haunting work, and one of the most memorable books I have ever enjoyed.
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on March 27, 2001
Although he possessed rhetorical power and artistic proficiency, the true strength of Levi's early work Christ Stopped at Eboli flows from his capacity to love. Certainly he could not succor people as Christ did. Nevertheless, Levi helped to impart at least a portion of divine charity to the people of Lucania. Much has changed since the era of fascism, but there is something lasting in Levi's descriptions of Southern Italy. In some ways this portrait in prose is a caustic criticism of political negligence and indifference, but more precisely it is a profound meditation on the ubiquitous longing for human sympathy. Out of this meditation there arises not only an appreciation for the farmers of Gagliano and the surrounding villages, but also a hope that Christ did not stop at Eboli. In other words, Christ descended below all things; the descension of the political prisoner was simply a metaphor for the suffering and compassion of Christ. Christ Stopped at Eboli will satiate the curiosity of anyone who is interested in Italian culture. I recommend this book to such readers, and to anyone who is human.
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on December 25, 1999
This a memoir of Carlo Levi`s experience as a political exile during the fascist regime, at the outset of the Abyssinian war. The setting is a remote village in Lucania, southern Italy, a region characterized by poverty, malaria, completely forgotten and neglected by the State. Levi's artistic sensitivity describes the people, the landscape, with an acute human feeling. This is the other side of Italy, the reverse of the rich, famous, well-developed North. After reading this book, it is easy to understand why so many Italians were tempted to emigrate to the American continent. Levi's ability to socialize and understand the peasant mentality is outstanding; it's a merit to his personality. The fact that he did not isolate himself from the people around the village, regardless of social and cultural level, enable him, after his realease, to write this book with a deep understanding of the social, political, religious, economical, and cultural problems of Southern Italy. The style is simple, direct, and elegant. Why Christ, why Eboli? the author only wants to say that the "civilized world" of Christianity has not reached this region of Italy, be it in Eboli or any other village of the South. An interesting book, written by someone whose main occupation in life was not be a writer. Levi was trained as a doctor, and as a "social doctor" he brush-stroked his thoughts into this memoir.
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on April 22, 2002
Carlo Levi as a gifted artist wrote about what he saw. It must be objective for its virtual universal acceptance by scholars and other readers. Certainly it is artistically and beautifully presented. It is an example of objective aesthetics.
For Mr. Martino to advise us in his earlier review that Gagliano and its ilk are not the same as in the 1940's and are now nice places with mature, decent, religious people, is a bit superfluous. Who cares? We are only interested in what was contemporary with Carlo Levi's being there, not what it is like now. Apparently Mr. Martino feels that Levi's book competes with his little travel narrative.
Christ Stopped at Eboli is a classic and an educational fun read. Perhaps it will help those in the future fear fascism enough to prevent it from rearing its ugly head.
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on January 28, 1997
Why read this book? The title won't reel you in. It's not about Christ. It's not religious. It's not even about Eboli. It's about Lucania, a remote village in Italy. So remote, so inconsequential that even Christ never bothered to visit the village, but stopped short at Eboli. It's not really a novel, but more of a cross between a novella and a diary. Having said all that it isn't, let me tell you what it is. It is the true story of a doctor who is banished to a remote village in Italy due to his anti-fascist views during the Abyssinian war. What a turn off! So why read it? It is humorous. It is poignant. It is timeless. And yes, it is a page turner. May we all face adversity with the grace and dignity of Carlo Levi
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on March 20, 2000
I think this is my favourite book. It is certainly one I wouldpack amongst my Top Ten for life on a desert island. It is about theindomitability of human spirit. It is about attempted repression and inhumanity of fascism, yet it is about the small wonders and joys that are human life. Eboli, the nearest major town is the 'last outpost' of civilization - beyond which are 'heathens', untouched by Christ, or salvation. Of course that is a metaphor, not reality, for our little village has the same corrupt and stifling religiosity as elsewhere.
This is one of those personal accounts that makes it possible to begin to understand the enormity of the outrage of political repression, and ultimately war.
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on July 29, 1997
The history (better say, the "non" history) of a land (Lucania one of the poorest of the poor south of Italy) its values, in a frame of a perpetual immobility in respect of the progress of the "civilized" world.Carlo Levi looks at it without expressing any moral judgement: he tries only to understand the "Veltanschauung" (what is "behind" and "in" the things) of the culture of a forgotten land and its people; so giving an impressive, positivist style, picture of an unknown civilization, too often absent-mindedly judged by people who did'nt care to understand the full and deep humanity of a land "without sin and without redemption"(Preface
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on October 30, 2014
After visiting southern Italy recently, including the town of Matera and its cave dwellings, it was suggested to the group to read the book Christ Stopped at Eboli by Carlo Levi. The book is very good and although does nnot specifically relate to Matera as I thought it would, it details the everyday life of people in that region during the late 30ies and 40ies when Carlo Levi was living in exile there. That whole area seemed to be cut off from the northern part of Italy, in all respects......they were totally forgotten, even when it came to religion. Case i point, the rail line and main road stopped at Eboli...hence the name of the book...Christ Stopped at Eboli.
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on November 21, 1998
Truly a moving and a unique book. The setting is the narrowest of venues, an almost forgotten village in southern Italy, during the 1930's. A physician, internally exiled by the Fascist government, experiences a culture that in many respects is pre-Christian (hence the title.)
Almost without plot, the strength of the book is in the wonderfully evocative descriptions of the people and landscape. One of the best written books I have ever read - remarkable considering the author was not a professional writer. The translator also deserves credit for helping to create so many memorable passages.
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