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Christ Stopped in Eboli





Levi left Grassano, the first stage of his confinement, tells of arriving in Gagliano on an August afternoon accompanied by two representatives of the state from red bands to trousers and unexpressive faces feeling a great displeasure for having had to say goodbye to the country where he was previously, where he was well. Arriving in Gagliano he is handed over to the municipal secretary, and to the brigadier, he remains alone in the middle of the road. For Levi, the first impact is very abrupt; at first glance convinces him that the three years of confinement he was supposed to spend there would be very long and idle and the image of the country, so closed and lost, immediately suggest to his mind the idea of death. After observing the country, it is heading towards what will be the first accommodation addressed by the secretary, whose sister-in-law remains a widow, has in the house his own room that rents to the rare passing travellers and lives a few steps from the town hall. From the widow will later learn about many things about the place and the people of the country. During his first walk in the country knows the Mayor don Luigi Magalone said Luigino, and the two doctors in the country, doctors Gandhi and Mahoney, that exercising that profession, does not have any valid representatives. Not wanting to compete with the two defined in country medical pacifiers Levi will feel pretty distressed whenever they are requested to medical advice, because you feel that the naïve trust of qu and peasants who rely on him, "wondered a spare parts ", and he could count on a sufficient preparation of studies but no practice, and his mentality was far removed from that scientific" made of coldness and detachment ".


Among the people he knows in the following are Don Giuseppe Trajella, the parish priest of the village, now resigned to the determined hatred of the villagers and the unbelieving and superstitious attitudes of the peasants, and the woman Caterina Magalone, sister of the podesta.

To break the monotony of those long days will be the arrival of his sister Luisa, who encourages and advises him, bringing him medicines and some tools to be able to cure the local peasants. In the search for solitude, the only place Carlo Levi knows is the cemetery, located outside the village. Here he usually lies at the bottom of a pit to contemplate the sky and there he often ends up falling asleep, with his dog Baron at his feet. The cemetery is also the only place where the landscape breaks its monotony.It is here, therefore, that Levi makes a habit of painting, often guarded by a carabiniere sent by the prudent podesta.


After staying for twenty days at the widow's house, he moved to live in a house that was owned by the previous parish priest of Gagliano, Don Rocco Macioppi; in this place Levi is at ease, mainly thanks to the fact that the house is located in the outer part of the country, away from the inquisitorial glances of the podesta. There is a problem of finding a woman to clean, take water to the fountain and prepare food and in this regard Levi says:




"Donna Caterina solves the problem by finding him as a maid Giulia, one of the many witches of Gagliano, that is, one of those women who had had many children by different fathers and who practiced some kind of magical rites"


After three months in Gagliano, he was granted permission from Matera to return for a few days to Grassano, his former residence. Here Levi goes back with his mind and memories, meets old friends and attends a show of traveling actors after getting permission to go out in the evening from Dr. Zagarella, Podesta of Grassano. But the days spent in Grassano pass quickly and he must leave to return to the solitude of Gaglian.


Winter is coming, the days are getting shorter and the climate is getting worse. With winter comes also Christmas and with this unfortunate fact: the parish priest Don Trajella, pronounces the Christmas mass drunk, or pretending to be such, also simulating the loss of the predicate and the miraculous renewal of a letter sent by part of a peasant party volunteer for the war in Abyssinia, containing greetings for the whole country. The event does not at all arouse the approval of the herd Magalone, who subsequently makes sure to oust the parish priest. Another event that arouses interest in the country is the arrival of healthy porcelain, heir to the ancient family tradition of castrate sows, removing the ovaries to make them fatten even more. Towards the end of April he received a telegram announcing the death of a relative and the police allowed him to travel, well escorted, for a few days, to Turin. He sees, on this occasion, the city through different eyes, and check gap and friends, realizing that his Southern experience had changed him profoundly both in the ways of doing both inwardly. On his return to Lucania expect some new features, including the disappearance of Julie, her maid, because of jealousy of the current companion of her and the arrival of the new parish priest, replaced by Don Trajella, dismissed because of the events. Some time later, amidst the euphoria fascist conquest of Ethiopia, to the chagrin of peasants, Levi receives the release from confinement by two years in advance and with the description of his sad train journey ends the novel.


 City's Reality Lucano



Eboli is the bell town where, once the coast is abandoned, the road and the railway stop; after that point, you arrive in the arid, desolate and God-forgotten lands in Basilicata. The peasants of this land do not belong to the common canons of civilization, but they are not included in a different History, which has a magical and pagan flavor, a history in which Christ never came. Emblem is the city of Matera, with life in its Stones. Moreover, it should be noted that in Carlo Levi's book ( Christ stopped at Eboli ) he does not tell by thread and sign what happened during the Lucan confinement; there are in fact the lapses between fictitious time and real time.


In Levi's work you can hear strong similarities with the strand of neo-realist fiction both for the timely documentation and for the sociological aspect that it presents.




The text is presented in the form of different and homogeneous genres. From the kind of memorialistic character the author switches to the diaries, to the historical and sociological essay and the style is that of meditation and description of character and landscapes.

The novel was a great success and gained worldwide fame. After the first publication in the Enaudi Essays of 1945, a second edition of the same publishing house was published in 1946, which reprinted the novel in 1947 and 1963 with a note from the author and publisher. Numerous school editions have also been edited in a reduced form, with commentary and text comprehension cards. In 1979 the book was adapted from the film of the same name, directed by Francesco Rosi (who also signs the screenplay along with Tonino Guerra and Raffaele La Capria) and starring Gian Maria Volontè , Paolo Bonacelli, Alain Cuny, Lea Massari, Irene Papas and Antonino Allocca. In 1994 a new edition was published by Enaudi with introductory essays by Calvino and Jean-Paul Sartre.



Notes on the Novel



Christ stopped at Eboli is an autobiographical novel by the writer Carlo Levi written between December 1943 and July 1944 in Florence and published by Einaudi in 1945.

Under the fascist regime, in the years 1935 – 1936, the writer was sentenced to confinement in Lucania because of his anti-fascist activity and you must therefore spend a long period in Basilicata, in Aliano (which in the book is called Gagliano imitating the local pronunciation), where he got to know the reality of those lands and their people. On his return from the confinement Levi, after spending a long time spent in Gagliano and the previous one in Grassano. Levi himself writes in his foreword " As in a journey to the beginning of time, Christ stopped at Eboli recounts the discovery of a different civilization. It is that of the peasants of the South: out of history and progressive reason, ancient wisdom and patient pain. 

The book, however, is not a diary; it was written many years after the direct experience from which it originated, when the real impressions no longer had the prosaistic urgency of the document.