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Old Calabria (Marlboro Travel) Paperback – December 9, 1996

3.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“If there is a better book of travel in English, I do not know it.” —R. M. Dawkins, University of Oxford

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

First published in 1915, Old Calabria is one of the most comprehensive and exciting accounts of adventure travel in this century. Captivated by the cheerfully pagan quality of the mezzogiorno, as he understood it, Douglas plunged into Calabria, the southernmost and most backward part of Italy (a province that was still largely devoid of any form of modern amenity). He endured extremes of climate, scaled mountains, rode in rickety carriages driven by villainous coachmen, and traversed remote stretches of country where murderous groups of banditti were known to roam.
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Product Details

  • Series: Marlboro Travel
  • Paperback: 325 pages
  • Publisher: Marlboro Press (December 9, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810160226
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810160224
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,139,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is a masterpiece of English literature on Italy. However the book description on Amazon is misleading. It is not about Calabria but "Old Calabria." To the ancients the area between northern Apulia (Puglia) and Calabria, and of course Calabria itself, was Calabria. The first half of the book is mostly about the area which is called Tavoliere di Puglia, which is in current-day Puglia, and parts of Basilicata (the old Lucania). Only the second half deals with current-day Calabria.

Norman Douglas's knowledge and grasp of Southern Italy is unsurpassed. I also highly recommend "Siren Land." Add to these Goethe's "Italian Journey" and you will have gained the kind of insight that no contemporary, olive-tree hugging, marketing-conscious author can ever provide.
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Format: Paperback
If you enjoy books by literary travellers, you will love this one. In it a humane sensibility reveals itself in clean, meticulous prose. This is not a book about Calabria but a book about Norman Douglas in Calabria, a much more interesting topic. Read Paul Fussell's excellent essay on Douglas, "Norman Douglas's Temporary Attachments" and you will understand. In Abroad: British Literary Traveling between the Wars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Just a wonderful book, for Italophiles and long-time residents of southern Italy! (note: Written in the early 1900's.) Where else could you find a time-capsule travelogue written by a grumpy old Scottish pedophile with a sense of ironic humor who really can write?? Loved it.
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Format: Paperback
The negative reviews here may be safely ignored: they're all Calabro-Americans mad that an Englishman dared travel the province in 1915 armed with an Englishman's superior self-conception and write about it. As a friend said to me about this sort of hindsight white-knighting, this projecting of modern touchiness onto the carefree, politically incorrect past, "I have lost many hours of sleep contemplating Marx's silence about the plight of the transgendered."

I myself am half-Calabrese, half-English, and feel this dilemma in my own outlook. Even as I identify with the bearded modern scoundrels gesticulating and haunting the ruins of Calabrian history, I know they are just scoundrels compared to the men of the Hohenstaufen court; they live, they have names, they have stories, but they didn't concern Douglas, and history is built on larger blocks.

On the other hand, while Douglas kept his englishness about him with respect to the unlovely aspects of Calabrese culture of the day, he certainly makes up for it in his wealth of knowledge about, and depth of passion for, the region. He will pause and describe the window of his hotel for you, the evening outside; and maybe what the people below are gossiping about. If a boat happens to pass in the harbor, he will tell you of its origins and any relevant episode in Calabrian history involving such vessels, straight back to the Greeks. Or he will spend a page wondering why a certain town was planned this way and not that, and connect it on the next page to the general character of the town and its inhabitants. What more can you ask for from an historical travelogue?

Not only this, but he writes in some of the finest English prose you'll ever have the pleasure to read.
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Format: Paperback
This was a brilliant book and thoroughly enjoyable. At first I got it to look into the nature of the Calabrian people but soon realized it was the story of one man's interpretation of his own travels through Southern Italy in areas that may at one time have been part of Calabria. Interestingly San Giuseppe di Cupertino was mentioned in the book but he is from Le Marche, far north of Calabria if old. Still a witty and sarcastic endeavor that was fun to read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Never knew this wonderful, informational, intellectual book was written. Wish I had read it years ago so I would have understood my relatives more. .

It is also a good history lesson in a wonderful format.
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