A beautiful memoir of the author’s time spent in exile in Lucania, in Southern Italy, during the Fascist years. It perfectly conjures up the atmosphere, both bleak and beautiful, of this quite remote region of Italy. The political situation is always present, looming over the activities of the writer and the villagers he lives with.

The book ends with a compelling argument that government will always be disconnected from the people of regions like this, who see the world of ‘the capital’ as quite separate from theirs. In fact, the efforts of the local Fascists to engender interest in politics among the peasants – what we would call today, in the woolly language of UK politics, ‘engagement’ – almost arouse our sympathy, as they can’t see this truth any more clearly than any other aspirant ruler.

Eboli, incidentally, is the town to the north of Lucania where Christ is said to have stopped – that is, he came no further, leaving Lucania untouched.

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