- Series: Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin
- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Classics (October 1, 1999)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141180765
- ISBN-13: 978-0141180762
- Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 23 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,145,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sea and Sardinia (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin)
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..".very impressive to read..." Rocky Mountain News --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Sea and Sardinia records Lawrence's journey to Sardinia and back in January 1921. It reveals his response to a new landscape and people and his ability to transmute the spirit of place into literary art. This 1997 edition restores censored passages and corrects corrupt textual readings. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
"Comes over one an absolute necessity to move. And what is more, to move in some particular direction. A double necessity then: to get on the move, and to know whither.
Why can't one sit still? Here in Sicily it is so pleasant: the sunny Ionian sea, the changing jewel of Calabria, like a fire-opal moved in the light; Italy and the panorama of Christmas clouds, night with the dog-star laying a long, luminous gleam across the sea, as if baying at us, Orion marching above; how the dog-star Sirius looks at one, looks at one! he is the hound of heaven, green, glamorous and fierce!--and then oh regal evening star, hung westward flaring over the jagged dark precipices of tall Sicily: then Etna, that wicked witch, resting her thick white snow under heaven, and slowly, slowly rolling her orange-coloured smoke. They called her the Pillar of Heaven, the Greeks. It seems wrong at first, for she trails up in a long, magical, flexible line from the sea's edge to her blunt cone, and does not seem tall. She seems rather low, under heaven. But as one knows her better, oh awe and wizardy! Remote under heaven, aloof, so near, yet never with us. The painters try to paint her, and the photographers to photograph her, in vain."
Lawrence and his wife travel to and from Sardinia by train and ship, and while on the island, they use the motor bus, still a novelty at that time. The people, the landscape, the villages and towns as well as the interior of the inns and hotels they stay at are described in a way that definitely makes you glad to live almost a century later, with all the comfort we have gotten used to. Most of the humble places where they stay are bitterly cold, no cleaner than a cow shed, offer too little food to make up for the lack of other comforts, and so the Lawrences never stay very long in one place.
The author is fascinated by local costume and the rather archaic, simple way of life and character he finds in the village people. It helps that both he and Frieda are fluent in Italian, and he reports many a conversation with inn-keepers, bus drivers and fellow passengers.
I enjoyed this read, and also enjoyed reading up about the couple on wikipedia. Frieda von Richthofen was German, six years older than David Herbert Lawrence, who became her lover while she was still married to an English professor and he was his student. They eloped to Germany (leaving her three children behind) and married after her divorce came through. They stayed together for the rest of Lawrence's life, which ended early: he died in 1930, aged 44, from tuberculosis. Frieda married again and lived until 1956.
Times have changed, and I guess most Sardinians wear their traditional costume only for touristy events and maybe a national holiday or patron saint feast, but I'd like to know how much of what the author describes of Nuoro, Cagliari, Mandas, Sorgono and Terranova still is recognizable today.
With no explanation or preamble, D.H. Lawrence and his wife (The "Queen Bee", who he criticizes relentlessly)set off for this remote island IN WINTER apparently so he can bitch about the weather along with the poor food and service in the hotels they can afford to stay in. This is post WWI/pre-Mussolini Italy and the economy is not too hot. The Lawrences spend no more than 1 night in any city, so they never get to know any town. (One night they arrive in a rural town to find that all the men are dressed as women. It is cold, so they scurry back to their hotel, make tea, and look out from their window a while before eating a bad meal. Lawrence never explores why the people are cross dressing, but he does describe the meal in detail).
The writing at times is amazing and the book provides a peek at an area of the world at a moment in time that is long gone. For this reason it is worth reading. On the other hand, it is unclear why Lawrence ever left home.
That being said the descriptions were exceptionally descriptive, occasionally amusing and made me glad I did not have to travel under
the circumstances of that era.
As travelogues go, SEA AND SARDINIA may be found somewhat lacking in the description of landmarks. Lawrence focuses on encounters with the people, who presented a multi-layered lesson in the collision of the ancient with the 20th century and the recent war. In speaking to the audience back home, Lawrence often expresses himself in literary and historical allusion and his musings ring with a psychological resonance that is both intentional and unintentional. The result is an entertaining and informative experience that imparts much about post-war Europe and this particular traveler.
This is a fine critical edition. The annotations are discretely listed at the back of the book, with no disruptive footnotes blotting the page. There are also a good map, a glossary of Italian words and phrases and a brief bibliography following the text. A chronology of Lawrence's career precedes it, as does a critical introduction. Despite the quality of the introduction, I heartily recommend reading it AFTER you've enjoyed the text on your own terms, because it gives away some of the surprises (as critical introductions are wont to do).