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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A chance discovery
I came across this book by chance when we were sorting out a vast collection of books belonging to my late father in law. It was a very early Readers Union edition published in 1949 and printed on thin 'austerity' paper within a green linen hardback cover. The book was throughout a rivetting read, describing acutely and sensitively not only the peasants' lives as well as...
Published on 23 Aug 2006 by mike7337

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not really for me...
Well, I may as well tell the truth and be out of step with everyone else. I bought this because I was about to stay in a couple of caves in Matera and wanted to know about the immediate area and its history from a less factual and more personal point of view.

I wasn't expecting a thrill-a-minute rollercoaster ride (e.g. Eboli: The Secret Of The Caves), but the...
Published 23 months ago by Cheshire Dave


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32 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A chance discovery, 23 Aug 2006
By 
mike7337 (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Christ Stopped at Eboli (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I came across this book by chance when we were sorting out a vast collection of books belonging to my late father in law. It was a very early Readers Union edition published in 1949 and printed on thin 'austerity' paper within a green linen hardback cover. The book was throughout a rivetting read, describing acutely and sensitively not only the peasants' lives as well as that of the 'gentry' in Gagliano (now Aliano) and Carlo Levi's previous exile village, Grassano. Levi's descriptions of the landscape are fantastic considering the landscape around Gagliano consists of not much more than ridges and ravines, also the stories, seasonal events and customs and supernatural presences - all brought excitingly and humourously alive. Amazingly the solution he suggests for the poverty-ridden south of Italy in the mid thirties is not Marxist dogma but a carefully thought out sustainability scheme more reminiscent of the anarcho-syndicalists of Spain at that time. I've read the book three times - still finding more, and found his paintings done during exile on an excellent website marchebonsecours.qc.ca/ex_expo/levi/eng/cataloa.htm - they are for me as an artist brilliant! What a genius! I 'm following Levi's footsteps and exploring the area this October on foot - it's amazing what a book can do...
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scintillating brilliance, 27 Sep 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Christ Stopped at Eboli (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Good things often come in small packages, and in an era where words like 'genius' are tossed casually around it will suprise some that one of the greatest books of the twentieth century should come in the form of a slim paperback as opposed to a phonebook fat epic.
In some ways this is a autobiographical travelogue, though in many ways a million miles away from Bryson et al (as good as they get). The author, Carlo Levi, wrote this while in exile during the period of Mussolini's rule.
Documenting life the peasants of Southern Italy, who were not Christians and therefore not even human for 'Christ stopped at Eboli' it is testament to Levi's brilliance that he makes such unrelenting bleakness so readable. This is not an upbeat book, but it is ultimately a very rewarding one, never pulling punches while showing the innate dignity of a beaten people when confronting a system that is both completely alien and hostile to them.
The book has many lessons for contemporary Italy, for whilst the poverty has disappeared, the problems of those brigand ridden days remain. Read this alongside Lampedusa's magesterial work "The Leopard" for an understanding of Italy that is deeper than a hundred books by Mario Puzo.
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61 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Book Painted with Words, 13 May 2004
This review is from: Christ Stopped at Eboli (Penguin Modern Classics) (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. Unless you have gone to “Search inside the Book” and read page three, the title may be a bit misleading: this 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 “Grassano…is 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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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An absorbing tale of exile, 11 Sep 2002
This review is from: Christ Stopped at Eboli (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I approached this book slightly unsure of what form it would take. As it turned out I found it to be an insightful an absorbing account of the author's political exile in Southern Italy. Levi gives an excellent description of life in the area, which is remarkably backward. He paints fantastic portraits of the local characters, and lends many interesting opinions on the politics of the time. And he does all this with the fine prose of a consumate writer and artist - an edition with some plates of his paintings of the area would be an excellent publication indeed!
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the twentieth century's greatest books - no hype, 23 Jan 2001
By 
Roger Phlegm (jersey, europe) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Christ Stopped at Eboli (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
I had to write a review of this book because it is a book that can never have enough readers or enough praise. Levi was exiled to the south of Italy by Mussolini, and this is his account of life there, in a culture that had remained tied to pagan ways. Christ stopped at Eboli, and Levi was exiled south of the border.
This is a wonderful book, evocative of the bleak landscape and the heat of Italy's south, of the superstitions of the peasants and the superciliousness of the (supposed) gentry. It is a mixture of diary, reportage, travel book and historical record. The book succeeds largely because of Levi's wonderful, generous personality and fantastic eye for detail among the most abject poverty imaginable.
Go read it, it's unique, and if anyone has ever read anything similar and as good please tell me.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pefect balance, 14 May 2007
By 
Minkle MacTinkle (A rock at the edge of the known world) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Christ Stopped at Eboli (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
This is one of those rare books that fits awkwardly into any clearly defined category. I think it's possible for different people to take something different from reading it. I read it whilst living in Italy and eventually spent a few days around Matera in Basilicata. So for me it was almost like a guide book.

Levi manages to convey the people and landscape in a creative and artistic way, but he never gets lost in lyrical descriptive prose. After all, this was no literary retreat; it was an exile from the Fascist state of the time. He constructs a sociological study balanced with a personal and involved portrayal of life in a village half forgotten by the 'civilized' World. The greatest achievement is that he is never patronizing or condescending to the peasants, he is clearly connected to the people but still remains objective.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wishes to understand the great divide between the South and North of Italy. It could also be useful to anybody wanting to study the politics of development and also to people who enjoy high quality literature.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Christ Stopped at Eboli, 23 Jun 2011
This review is from: Christ Stopped at Eboli (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
During a recent tour of southern Italy, our tour guide introduced us to the work of Carlo Levi as background information to a visit to the Sassi caves at Matera. Being unable to find the book in Matera, I was eager to buy it once I reached home. Not only did reading the book give me a far greater understanding of the people of the Sassi caves, it also gave me insight into the wider area that I had travelled through. If only I had know of this book before I went on holiday, it would have provided me with a greater understanding of the great differences between northern and southern Italy which still have repercussions in the present day. I would urge anyone keen to understand the people and landscape of the less travelled parts of Southern Italy to read this fine book before going on holiday.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An outstanding book. A real classic. An essential ..., 4 July 2014
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This review is from: Christ Stopped at Eboli (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
An outstanding book. A real classic. An essential read for anyone going to south Italy. The poverty of the village when the book was written is so well described it makes poignant and quite upsetting reading.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A portrait of peasant life in rural Southern Italy in the 1930s, 10 April 2014
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This review is from: Christ Stopped at Eboli (Penguin Modern Classics) (Paperback)
Curious to realise that I'd never before read about peasant life. Most of the world has led a peasant existence throughout history and yet we never hear about it. It's dull, it's poor, it's wretched. Carlo Levi gives us a glimpse and I found it a profoundly useful insight into the vast world I'd never stopped to think about.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written insight into the recent past of Italy, 17 Nov 2013
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Its hard to believe how much the world has changed in 3 generations. The villages in southern Italy in 1935 were existing almost unchanged since the dawn of time. A fascinating insight into the "Italy as 2 countries" debate, but delivered from the practical experience of moving form the North to the South. Humane, compassionate and wonderful.
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Christ Stopped at Eboli (Penguin Modern Classics)
Christ Stopped at Eboli (Penguin Modern Classics) by Carlo Levi (Paperback - 25 May 2000)
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