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A Glimpse Into The Lives Of A Forgotten People
on May 7, 2016
Haunting and beautifully written Carlo Levi gives us a glimpse of a part of Italy that was forgotten and neglected and tells of the daily life of an impoverished, superstitious people who had resigned to their lot. Banished to a small town in Lucania (now the region known as Basilicata) because of his anti-fascist activity, Levi, a doctor, writer and artist, spent one year in captivity internalizing his experiences. A few years later during WWII, while hiding out in a room in Florence because he was a Jew, he wrote the book, Christ Stopped at Eboli. The book is poetry, prose, and a scathing condemnation of the Italian government who shamefully neglected southern Italy after the Risorgimento and subsequent unification of Italy. Christ did not literally stop at Eboli. The title infers that the peasants of Lucania felt they were less than human...that the term "Christian" was synonymous with the word human and humanity stopped north of them. Centuries of oppression led them to consider themselves not much more than mules. Levi's lucid description helped begin the conversation of the "Problem of the South" after the war ended. As a descendant of grandparents who emigrated from this Italian region, the book touched me on a personal level.