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Seasons in Basilicata: A Year in a Southern Italian Hill Village Paperback – Bargain Price, July 5, 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial (July 5, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060531118
  • ASIN: B000GG4FF4
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,628,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Intrigued by Carlo Levi's book on life in the Italian province of Basilicata, Christ Stopped at Eboli, the author and his wife, Anne, decided to live for a year in Aliano, the village where Levi was kept under house arrest by Mussolini for seven months in 1935–1936. In Levi's day, Basilicata, situated in the instep of Italy's "boot," was a place of poverty. Unlike Levi, however, British travel writer Yeadon (The World's Secret Places) was there to "live happily with Anne, learning, and generally have a spanking good time dining on all those gorgeous porky products and homemade olive oil and wines and wild game and pasta galore." In his entertaining book, he describes how he did just that, renting an apartment with a terrace overlooking the village square, making friends who enjoyed serving him sumptuous meals, learning how wine and olive oil are made and investigating the local superstitions. He tries to find out from the older inhabitants what life was like in the 1930s, but they are reluctant to talk about it, claiming that they are better off than they were. But Yeadon doesn't dig too deeply: finding it hard to reconcile his experiences with Levi's bleak portrayal of conditions in Basilicata, Yeadon concentrates instead on the comradeship and good food. Illus.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

After his exile in southern Italy for anti-Fascist activities during World War II, Carlo Levi wrote Christ Stopped at Eboli, in which he explores the "dark, ancient, and richly human ethos" of the south's Basilicata region. More than a half century later, summoned by the "siren calls" in Levi's masterwork, Yeadon, with his wife, retreated to Aliano, a tiny village tucked within Basilicata's remote, snowcapped peaks and the site of Levi's imprisonment. There, in a community dating back to at least the sixth century B.C.E., they found winding streets and a wonderfully eccentric populace, including Pietro, the town's geriatric parking attendant, and Viva, a spirited breakfast hostess, who, like many Italians, seemed to have "an inbred natural ability to express all [her] emotions instantaneously." Also evident was an ancient, underlining fascination with the occult, with frequent whispers of werewolves, sorcerers, and death curses. Yeadon's focus on the Aliano people gives this funny, surprising story its lifeblood, as does his avoidance of cliches. His illustrations are a nice touch, too. Andy Boynton
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Lovely hardcover book and I could barely stop reading it.
Dolores Pocsik
There is just a little too much of Mr. Yeadon in the book, he plays too large a role, and seems to be unable to be objective in his account.
David Lupo
I guess this comes from not having a good command of the language.
M. McGuire

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Read this book. You won't be disappointed. Although its initial appeal for me was the connection to Carlo Levi's, "Christ Stopped at Eboli," I was enchanted by Yeadon's narrative of daily life in a small town in the Mezzogiorno. I am a little tired of the mania for Northern Italy and have been seeking to experience the "other Italy." After all, it was the southerners who migrated to America in vast numbers and it is their legacy that has thrived and enriched the culture of the United States. If you enjoy this, read Paul Paolicelli's "Under the Southern Sun." Both of these books are a feast. Buon appetito!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Fusco on August 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
David Yeadon has done a great service in his excellent narrative of a year spent in the remote and little known region of Basilicata. He initally is interested in the town of Aliano where the anti-fascist writer Carlo Levi was exiled in 1935. There he and his wife spend a year getting to know the region and its people.

I would recommend reading Carlo Levi's Christ Stopped at Eboli before reading Seasons in Basilicata. I would also recommend the film of the same title based on Levi's work.

The only small criticism I would make is that there could have been more careful editing. There are some instances of misuse of Italian words: such as using "padronale" as a noun--it is an adjective relating to a "padrone" or boss in all senses of the word. There was also an instance where he gives the equivalent of fifteen million lire as seventy-five-thousand dollars: it was actually less than ten-thousand dollars. But, considering the work as a whole, these are minor.

Thanks to David Yeadon for exposing this hidden corner of Italy. The reader will find a place far different from the Italy on the tourist trails--and he or she will be richer for it.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By N. Parode on December 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book with high hopes...my husband loves the book "Christ Stopped at Eboli", we've lived in southern Italy for over five years when you add it up (thank you, U. S. Navy!), and the reviews were promising. I have to admit that I was disappointed, and my husband couldn't even bring himself to finish the book. What bothered me most was that the author, who is a veteran travel writer, took himself off to Italy for an extended stay and didn't bother to try to learn more than tourist Italian before he got there, and then didn't manage to improve his language skills once he was settled. Most of the interviews and conversations he describes in the book were translated for him by someone else. Now, I am the first to admit that Italian is a fairly complex language, especially when it comes to verbs. However, I can attest to the fact that it's possible to learn basic Italian by living in Italy and trying very, very hard to speak with everyone, read newspapers, watch TV, etc. The author's failure to do this results in some assessments of southern Italian life that are a little off kilter. For example, his reference to "colpo grosso" in the section about Italian eroticism and TV shows misses the fact that the game show he was watching was a well-known game show with that phrase as its name. (It's now syndicated.) It isn't a genre of TV shows at all.

I did love the author's sketches of the Basilicata region. I wish he'd sketched more and written less, because I would have liked the book a great deal more. Basilicata is indeed a wonderful and under-rated region of Italy. It has much to offer; it's mysterious, beautiful, remote and unique. It's nice to see that publishers are interested in bringing out books that reveal the secrets of the "untouristed" Italy.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Hilary Miller on December 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Thanks to a previous reviewer, after checking this book out of the library I decided that I'd better read "Christ Stopped at Eboli" first. The books, read together, make for a wonderful literary experience. "Christ Stopped at Eboli" is really a masterpiece, and after finishing it, I was even more interested in reading "Seasons in Basilicata" and finding out more about this fascinating part of Italy.

Having read a number of travel books in the last year, I would rank this book in the top third. I like the fact that Yeadon spent almost an entire year in this one little town; in some books (like "Under the Tuscan Sun"), the author makes twice-yearly visits to an area -- I don't think it's possible to really capture the "flavor" of a place under these circumstances. Also, Yeadon has a good sense of humor, and there were many places in the book where I simply laughed out loud. While the food of the area was certainly described with relish, it wasn't overemphasized. Yeadon has lots to say about lots of things -- and I came away from the book with a much better understanding of the history, architecture, economy, and atmosphere of the area. Yeadon clearly has a gregarious, extroverted personality which shines through the pages -- he got to know a lot of natives on what seemed to be a more than superficial level. When Yeadon's year in Basilicata was over, the sense of poignancy and sadness at leaving was palpable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Geoffrey Santoliquido on December 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be insightful and illustrative. Clearly this is an unusual book. It is like a combination travelogue, novel and diary. I almost gave up on it early on due to what seemed irrelevant ramblings of the author but I am very glad I stuck it out because it improves as you move through it.

Reading this book gave me a much clearer sense of my ancestral roots: my grandfather, like so many others, came to America from this region of Italy and unfortunately he died before I met him. So this book gave me a window to his past and I am grateful to the author for this. Yeadon provides colorful illustrations of the people, customs, beliefs, lifestyle and landscape of Basilicata, using words as his paintbrush. Of course next on my list is Carlo Levi's "Christ Stopped at Eboli." Perhaps reading Levi's book before this one would have been useful but at least now I know the meaning of Levi's title.

I highly recommend this book to the hundreds of thousands of first-, second-, and third-generation Italian-Americans whose ancestors left Basilicata to make a life here in America. I have had difficulty finding many English-language books about Basilicata and it was exciting to find this one. Suggestions in this regard would be welcome - leave me a comment reply to this review if you know of other relevant books...
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