Midnight in Sicily: On Art, Food, History, Travel and la by Peter Robb

By Peter Robb

A New York instances publication Review extraordinary publication of the Year

A big apple Public Library most sensible publication of the Year

From the writer of M and A loss of life in Brazil comes Midnight in Sicily.

South of mainland Italy lies the island of Sicily, domestic to an historical tradition that--with its stark landscapes, wonderful coastlines, and outstanding treasure troves of paintings and archeology--has seduced tourists for hundreds of years. yet on the center of the island's infrequent good looks is a community of violence and corruption that reaches into each nook of Sicilian existence: Cosa Nostra, the Mafia. Peter Robb lived in southern Italy for over fourteen years and recounts its sensuous pleasures, its literature, politics, paintings, and crimes.

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Firstly, she uses its exoticism, not as something exciting, but as a contribution to a feeling of boredom with the present state of civilisation. Looking from the campanile of San Marco towards Dalmatia, and talking of the savage ignorance of the Dalmatians, Corinne says, Je me plairais a voir tous les paysou il y a dans les moeurs, dans les costumes, dans Ie langage, quelque chose d' original. Le monde civilise est bien monotone, et I' on en connait tout en peu de temps; j' ai deja assez vecu ·pour cela.

But he was, for example, 'indincrent'l to Venice, and the poetry which resulted from these visits has very little interest; and even in the more spontaneous mode of letter writing he fails to display very much enthusiasm for what he is seeing. 2 Coleridge, too, knew Italy and the Mediterranean, having lived from 1804 to 1806 in Malta, whither he had gone to escape from debts and from his unfortunate marriage, and for the sake of his health. 3 He travelled in Italy, and was one ofthe earliest admirers of the frescoes in the Campo Santo at Pisa, to which he frequently refers in his lectures.

Bid the Earth's plenty kill! Bid thy bright Heaven above, Whilst light and darkness bound it, Be their tomb who planned 50 Italy and English Literature 1764-1930 To make it ours and thine! Or, with thine harminizing ardours fill And raise thy sons, as o'er the prone horizon Thy lamp feeds every twilight wave with fire By man's high hope and unextinct desire, The instrument to work thy will divine! Then clouds from sunbeams, antelopes from leopards, And frowns and fears from Thee, Would not more swiftly flee Than Celtic wolves from the Ausonian shepherds.

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