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Christ Stopped at Eboli (Twentieth Century Classics) Paperback – 26 Jul 1990

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (26 July 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140183116
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140183115
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 118,654 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Inside Flap

"We're not Christians, Christ stopped short of here, at Eboli."

Exiled to a remote and barren corner of Italy for his opposition to Mussolini, Carlo Levi entered a world cut off from history and the state, hedged in by custom and sorrow, without comfort or solace, where, eternally patient, the peasants lived in an age-old stillness and in the presence of death--for Christ did stop at Eboli.

"In turn a diary, an album of sketches, a novel, a sociological study and a political essay … a beautiful book" --The New York Times Book Review

"A sensitive and gifted writer .. Perhaps the best thing in his book is the detachment by which he avoids sentimentalising the peasants and at the same time renders their undestroyed feelings for human values' --New York Herald Book Review

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Franz Bieberkopf on 27 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback
Carlo Levi was an anti-fascist in Mussolini's Italy(as well as a doctor)who was sentenced to a period of internal exile in the depths of rural southern Italy.
His portrait of the peasant world,with it's mixture of paganism,hunger and malaria is fantastic.He obviously empathises with the peasantry,but is never superior to them.Also,there is little or no self-pity("woe is me,a political exile").
This world vanished in the 1950's due to a combination of land reform,industrialisation and migration.Read Levi's account and wonder at a world that still existed in western Europe as recently as the late 1940s.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Graham Follos on 16 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A very rewarding book, following a recent visit to the area of Italy covered in this book, I could not imagine the conditions outlined in this book. Italy has certainly moved on since these days but it does no harm to go back in time to appreciate the living and political system in force in the mid thirties.This book does exactly that. If ever you need reassurance that fascism is evil, then read this book.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pixie on 17 April 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a book club read. Personally found it bit like wading thru treacle, but some folks enjoyed. Already recycled!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 69 reviews
77 of 81 people found the following review helpful
A Book Painted with Words 3 April 2004
By Born to Read - Published on
Format: Paperback
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.
53 of 59 people found the following review helpful
Southern Italy: A country within a country 25 Dec. 1999
By Esther Nebenzahl - Published on
Format: Paperback
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.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
The Power to Enchant. 30 Jan. 2006
By JAD - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a moving account of Carlo Levi's house -- or better, town -- arrest in a remote corner of Italy during the Mussolini era, when the fascists determined that it was much less expensive for them to put political prisoners in out of the way villages and have the local police responsible for keeping them there, than to put them in prison.

What must have felt like banishment, Levi soon turned into one of the most lyrical books I have ever read.

Now, remember, that he was writing about a place that had not changed since the time of Christ--hence the title. He is not writing about religion, but rather, about a region, where the realities of poverty, of peasants farming a harsh landscape controlled by absentee landowners, nonetheless had the power to interest and enchant.

Levi describes both the warmth and the backwardness of the people, the humbleness of their homes (so humble the only natural light comes into them when the door is open--there are no windows). He recounts the marvelous meals he enjoyed there, made from next to nothing, the sound of the workers' return from the fields, and more. He laments that when he asks about local folk songs, there are none. This -- a wild terrain chosen as backdrop in the recent film "The Passion of the Christ" -- is not a landscape to inspire singing.

The towns are like small outposts on the steep sides of the valleys. The only signs of rising above the poverty are displayed in households where someone in the family has gone far away to work in places like Pittsburgh, and sent money home. Think what it must have meant, that the rigors of steel mills and coal mines were an improvement over life in this region.

Visit with Levi a place where times seemed to have stood still--and a place that would look and feel much the same, were you to visit today. Other than the "discovery" of the Basilicata cuisine -- now popular at specialty restaurants in Rome and other Italian cities -- even now, few "travel" books will tell you about this undiscovered region. If you want to get off the beaten path, go.

It is a primitive beauty. And if you cannot go in person, do let Levi take you there.

One added note, for anyone whose ancestors came from this part of Italy, the book is a "must read". It is more than likely that your grandparents and great-grandparents did not tell you much about the place they left behind. Levi can and does, poetically and sympathetically.

If you find this review helpful you might want to read some of my other reviews, including those on subjects ranging from biography to architecture, as well as religion and fiction.
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Bad title - great book 29 Jan. 1997
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
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
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Favourite 21 Mar. 2000
By saliero - Published on
Format: Paperback
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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