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The Story of San Michele

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  1,233 ratings  ·  92 reviews
The Story of San Michele (a villa built on the ruins of a Roman Emperor's villa in Capri) is a series of overlapping vignettes, roughly but not entirely in chronological order. It contains reminiscences of many periods of the author's life. He associated with a number of celebrities of his times, including Jean-Martin Charcot, Louis Pasteur, Henry James, and Guy de Maupass ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published June 1st 2007 by John Murray Publishers (first published 1929)
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This is the autobiography of a gung ho doctor and adventurer, carrying a bag full of rich stories – some of them funny, others magical, others tragic . He has a deep well of love and compassion for both human beings and animals, in all our states of being. From the hypochondria of some of his wealthy patients to the desperate plights of some of his poorer ones – Axel Munthe connects passionately with the humanity in all of us. At the start of his career he was the youngest person ever to have gr ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
The author was Swedish, born in 1857 and studied medicine in Paris at an early age. I do not know how he looked like, he has no photo in this autobiographical book, but he did mention here a few times that he has blue eyes. He was probably good-looking because the rich and the royalties during his time, most of them women, flocked to him for their real and imagined illnesses.

The blurb says that he was Tsar Nicholas's first choice as doctor for his ailing, only son (Rasputin only came to the pict
Munthe, Axel. THE STORY OF SAN MICHELE. (1929; this edition 1991). ****. On my first trip to Italy in 1968, I decided to “do” the south. This meant starting in Rome and then going to Pompeii, Naples, and the Amalfi coast. I went back to Naples and took a hydrofoil (my first) to Capri. I had heard how beautiful it was, and, indeed, it met all of its descriptions. While there, I took the standard tour of the island. This included the Blue Grotto and San Michele. Of course, I didn’t know anything a ...more
I read this great book about 30 or so years ago. Now that I have visited Axel Munthe's extraordinary Tiberian Villa in Capri I wanted to read it again.

It was worth a second reading. He has such a great way with story telling. The only disappointing element was the end chapter "In the old tower" where he rambles about death way too long.

He built his villa by hand. No architect, no permits, no coastal commission, no unions, & no inspectors. Ahh... those were the days!

Best quote:
"The house was
Doug Lambeth
Before the Dos Equis' "Most Interesting Man in the World" there was Axel Munthe, and he was the real deal, not an ad agency fever dream creation. "The Story of San Michele" isn't really the story of San Michele--although that weaves through his vignettes. It's more of Munthe's musings, stories, chats with moonbeams, dogs and St. Peter, and his work as a physician in Rome and Paris. At times surreal and amusing, at times graphic and horrifying, Munthe's (somewhat) embellished tales of his life is ...more
A stunningly individual book - a glimpse into another time, through fascinating eyes. In some ways, it feels very ahead-of-its-time, the playfulness of the narrator/author presaging postmodern concerns.

The flaw is that Munthe - while capable of some truly beautiful sentences - is not a novelist, nor even a prose writer, and is not writing in his first (nor, if I recall correctly, even second or third) language. As a result, from top to bottom this feels like the work of an amateur, lacking sophi
“La mia casa è aperta al sole, alla luce ed agli amici”

"Chi ama gli animali ama anche le persone”, diceva mia nonna; sì, è vero, siamo tutti creature di Dio, condividiamo il passaggio su questa terra cercando di darci reciproco piacere, affetto e compagnia. So bene che è una visione eccessivamente ottimistica, che viene smentita ogni momento dalle peggiori nefandezze e crudeltà sugli animali, tuttavia dopo aver letto Axel Munthe non si può fare a meno di pensarlo.
Mi aspettavo di leggere un libro
Si j'ai réellement pris du plaisir avec certains chapitres de ce livre il faut toutefois reconnaître que l'auteur, sous des dehors de fausse modestie, de fausse humilité et de fausse candeur, lasse par la haute opinion qu'il se fait de lui-même.
Un autre point qui vient gâcher les parties les plus lumineuse du livre est le point de vue plusieurs fois répété de Munthe sur l'expérimentation médicale sur les prisonniers et son mépris pour les femmes qu'il ne manque pas de détailler et d'illustrer p
Anne-Mieke Vermeulen
Axel Munthe (1857 – 1949) was een Zweeds huisarts met een grote belangstelling voor neuropsychologie en hypnose. Hij praktiseerde als modedokter ondermeer in Parijs en Rome. Zijn clientèle bestond uit wat wij tegenwoordig expats zouden noemen: de internationale elite. Onder zijn patiënten bevonden zich veel dames met ingebeelde ziektes. Behalve voor deze welgestelde klantenkring, zette Munthe zich als arts vaak pro-deo in voor de armen. Zo werkte hij onder zeer extreme omstandigheden in Napels t ...more
Aldo Marchioni
Until 2 weeks ago I had no idea an Axel Munthe ever existed. Then somebody gave me this book, and it was a revelation.
It has been written at the beginning of XX century, and deals about things happened at the end of the XIX, however it sounds so contemporary that I would define it out of time.
It deals about the falling in love of Axel Munthe for Capri, and Anacapri in particular, how he discovered some remaining of the famous Tiberius villa, and how he built (with his own hands, and the help of
Dec 06, 2008 David rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone
A travel classic, this extraordinary, partly fictionalised autobiography includes and is partly defined by significant elaborations and omissions (for example wholly neglecting to mention two wives).

Scenes include medical life among the Parisian poor, a Scandinavian idyll and an audacious if somewhat sentimental vision of God and Heaven to conclude.

Visiting Capri while reading this book was a magical experience.
I came across this quote a few days ago, looked it up, and ended up reading the entire book.
" I could cure the Countess of her colitis in a day."
He looked at me stupefied.
" And why, in the name of All the Saints, don't you? You are incurring a tremendous responsibility."
" I am not afraid of responsibility, I would not be here if I were. Now let us speak openly. Yes, I could cure the Countess in a day, she no more has co
Suurepärane lugemine; võiks huvi pakkuda arstidele ja kõikide loomade (koerte) sõpradele. Sündmuskohad: Pariis, Rooma, Anacapri, Rootsi, Messiina. Võrdväärselt eesti autorite Rooma raamatute - Rooma päevik, Varjuteater - reas. Raamat Elust ja ka - Surmast.

Mõned tsitaadid:

Viimselpäeval kutsuvat Jumal esiteks kõik loomad, et nad surnud inimese kohta tunnistust annaksid. Alles siis, kui loomad olevat ütelnud, mis neil ütelda oli, kutsutavat Jumala ette surnu ligimesed.

/.../ - mida sa enda tarvis ho
Leggere A Colori
Per riuscire a comprendere questo affascinante libro, che non è un romanzo storico, non è un memoire, non è un trattato di archeologia, ma è tutto questo e anche molto di più, occorre avvicinarsi all'altrettanto affascinante figura del medico svedese Axel Munthe, un personaggio divenuto leggendario tanto nel mondo della medicina quanto della letteratura. Nato nel 1857, laureatosi a Parigi e allievo di Charcot, la sua personalità trasmette ai pazienti un eccezionale carisma, ed il suo carattere l ...more
Sam Schulman
One of the great medical books and one of the great books about Capri - much more readable and memorable than Norman Douglas' South Wind.
Unfortunately (someone told me), much of Munthe's account of his heroic career as a doctor is a tissue of lies.
This book describes a society doctor's life and his construction of a fantastic home on the Island of Capri. Although I found it pretentious and rambling, it was oddly compelling.
El Segoviano
En realidad se trata de una autobiografía de su autor el medico sueco Axel Munthe.
Utiliza la casa que se compró en Capri para alrededor de como se hizo con ella y los motivos que le hicieron acabar su vida en ese sitio, cuenta prácticamente toda su vida profesional, desde sus estudios en París, su labor profesional en esa misma ciudad, su traslado a Italia, primero a Roma y luego a Napoles. Entretenida y muy bien escrita.
El colofon es que pudimos ver su casa en Capri, Conchi la primera vez que e
My father-in-law recommended this book after I'd visited Italy and taken a trip to Capri, and climbed the steps to Anacapri. The book was entertaining and well-written, but I was disappointed. I thought it would be more about the actual building of Munthe's house, San Michele, and his life in Anacapri. Instead, it was a memoir, mostly about the time he spent as a young and talented doctor in Paris and Rome. Many of the chapters are stand-alone "vignettes", in which Munthe writes about interestin ...more
Philippe Bernard
Les mémoires d'un docteur éclectique à une époque où la médecine ne pouvait pas grand chose contre la maladie. La villa de San Michele est assez peu présente dans le livre et c'est décevant pour ceux qui l'ont visitée et voulait en apprendre davantage. Le livre en revanche nous parle beaucoup de la mort qui semble fasciner l'auteur au point qu'il nous fait même le récit de sa propre mort, passage un peu surréaliste! Au final, le personnage d'Axel Munthe m'a plutôt déçu, je m'attendais à une âme ...more
Geoffrey Fox
Gossipy memoirs of a multilingual Swedish physician and psychiatrist (1857-1949), his patients -- who included Swedish and other royalty, many rich "hysterical women" and great numbers of the poor -- and of his building of his estate San Michele atop and among ancient ruins (including a palace of Roman Emperor Tiberius) on the isle of Capri. He was a good story-teller, interested not in documenting his life but in illustrating his philosophical and psychological notions by anecdotes. You would n ...more
Mišrūs jausmai apima perskaičius, lyg ir buvo nuobodu, lyg ir buvo smagu; lyg ir painu, bet suprantama... Vis dėlto nė viena minutė, praleista su šita knyga, neatrodė tuščiai iššvaistyta, nors negaliu nuoširdžiai sakyti, kad pasakojimas įtraukė nuo pradžios iki pabaigos.
Ir dar: jeigu kitas knygas galima skaityti važiuojant, skrendant, vonioje ar prie gausiai nusėsto stalo, tai šitos - ne. "San Mikelė" visa persmelkta individualistine nuotaika, kuri verčia trauktis nuo klegesio ir bėgti su knyga
Bought in the Villa San Michele Museum in Anacapri while vacationing there this summer, this autobiographical piece by Dr. Axel Munthe was a lovely reminder to me, of the stunning natural beauty of this Italian island.
Dr. Munthe, a Swedish doctor who practiced in various parts of Europe in the early 20th century provides a colourful and engaging account of his first hand experiences with diseases, natural calamities and disasters. He is very candid in his feelings about his patients and his una
Fiction and non-fiction combined. I suppose the book should be to a large extent categorized as autobiography, but has some fiction, too. Gives a good and realistic historical depiction of life in Paris, Capri and elsewhere in Europe during the late 19th and early 20th century. My motivation to read this book arose from our visit to Munthe's Villa San Michele on Capri in Spring 2014. What a fantastic place! (Read the book in Finnish: Huvila meren rannalla)
This is the very favorite book of a dear family friend, which is how I found out about it. I found the narrative style a bit clunky, but overall enjoyed the book. I'm sure that I missed some significant bits, as the book is liberally sprinkled with phrases in French, Italian and Latin - none of which I know.

I especially enjoyed it from a "history of medicine" perspective. How frustrating to read about people dying from diphtheria, cholera epidemics & tertiary syphilis! It was interesting to
Luka Debeljak
This book was honestly quite confusing... It is autobiography of a person that definitely had an interesting and adventurous life, but it is really hard to follow.

His writing basically follows his thread of thoughts, switching places, languages, making assumptions about the context of the situations that leaves the reader basically lost. On top of that many times the stories are mixed with his thoughts about religion, his doubts about it and his interactions with the Death itself...

I must admit
Beautifully written. Loved his description of a "tiny messenger angel": "His eyes were full of sunglitter..." (last chapter, in which he writes of trying to enter the gates of Heaven). Only complaint: French, Italian and Latin appear frequently, but not translated for those of us who don't know those languages!
After seeing San Michelle in Capri, this seemed like a must-read book. It was unavailable at the library so I bought it. I was somewhat disappointed. It rambled, and worse of all, did not have much of the detail I was hoping for on building of the home, the gardens, etc... I also had heard at the villa that he was one of the foremost early environmentalist, so I was hoping to hear more than stories of his monkey. Pictures would have been great, especially since the villa, gardens and old world r ...more
I dipped in and out of this for research for my own writing, so although I claim to have read it, I have not gone about it in the usual way. Nonetheless I loved all the weird little anecdotes, particularly - and surprisingly as I am pretty squeamish - the medical ones. I mostly read in full the references to the Villa San Michele, of which there aren't actually that many!
I can imagine Munthe's style of writing would cause a serious headache to publishers/editors galore in this day and age, howev
Maria Elena
Mar 16, 2010 Maria Elena is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: future medical students
More than half way through it, it seems to lack coherence. It lost its way shortly after beginning and is having a hard time coming back, though I suspect it may. So far, it is a long series of mostly unrelated anecdotes whose tone changes but whose main theme is primarily death--he was a medical doctor during a difficult time (before most vaccines and antibiotics). Better be in a strong frame of mind for this one, or a Buddhist. "Cameos" by such biggies as Charcot may be amusing to some of the ...more
Dwija Aami
An unusual book, amusing judgements, portrayal of an ideal alternative life.loved it. :)
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Physician, psychiatrist, and writer. He was educated at the University of Uppsala and at Monpellier in Paris where he received his M.D. He studied the work of the French neurologist Jean Martin Charcot and used hypnosis in his own work with the physical and psychological symptoms of his patients. He later became physician to the Swedish Royal family.

He became known as "the modern St. Francis of A
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“Dievai visas gėrybes parduoda tikrąja kaina, yra pasakęs vienas senovės poetas. Jis būtų galėjęs pridurti, kad pačias verčiausias jie parduoda pigiausiai. Viskas, kas mums tikrai naudinga - nebrangu; tik už tai, be ko galima apsieiti, mokam didelius pinigus. Kas gražu - išvis neparduodama; visa tai nemirtingieji dievai mums duoda veltui.” 2 likes
“Norstrom always used to say that I had two
different brains working alternatively in my head:
the well developed brain of a fool and the un-
developed brain of a sort of genius.”
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