Levi, Carlo. Christ Stopped at Eboli

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It was to Lucania, a desolate land in southern Italy, that Carlo Levi—a doctor, painter, philosopher, and man of letters—was confined as a political prisoner because of his opposition to Italy’s Fascist government at the start of the Ethiopian war in 1935. While there, Levi reflected on the harsh landscape and its inhabitants, peasants who lived the same lives their ancestors had, constantly fearing black magic and the near presence of death. In so doing, Levi offered a starkly beautiful and moving account of a place and a people living outside the boundaries of progress and time.

Publisher: Penguin Classics;
Year: 2000
ISBN-10: 0141183217

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One thought on “Levi, Carlo. Christ Stopped at Eboli

  1. Peter Knapp

    In the mid-1930s Carlo Levi, doctor and painter, was exiled to Lucania in Southern Italy for his opposition to the authoritarian policies of Mussolini. His book provides a succinct memoir of his time there, in an area defined by peasant farmers, absent landowners, a few ‘gentry’, and little or no middle class. He encounters rural traditions and festivities, the (mostly unquestioned) influence of the Church and Pope, and complex family networks. Levi is a reluctant doctor – he had stopped practicing several years before his exile in order to paint professionally – but gradually he does more and more, encouraged by the poor standard of available healthcare, the endemic malaria, and the peasants’ mistrust of the existing local doctors. This short book provides a beautiful account of the lives lived in Southern Europe just 80 years ago, and the work of a doctor which is beset by poor public health, superstitious patients, professional rivals, and a lack of resources.

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