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Old Calabria

3.6  ·  Rating Details ·  53 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
When Norman Douglas visited Calabria, Italy in the early years of the 20th century, its wild, secluded, and enigmatic country attracted little interest and few tourists. But Douglas never followed the already-traveled path, and so, we have this classic in which he wittily escorts us from the promontory of Gargano to the tip of Aspromonte, and through the influences of many ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published December 31st 2001 by Phoenix Press (CA) (first published November 30th 1914)
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Feb 26, 2008 Phil rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers Of English Prose
This is a narrative of a Presbyterian Scotsman's journey, on foot, from the heel to the tip of the toe of Italy around the turn of the last century. Douglas is one of the best writers in English, ever. But lest you think this is some banal travel book you should remember the Mr. Douglas was not the sort of person to overlook the fact that Catholism is a Pagan religion and its adherents one step away from tropical savages. Eucalyptus trees feel the savage wrath of Normal Douglas's pen. His wander ...more
May 13, 2014 Jason rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Douglas' language was for me the best thing about the book, as well as some interestign observations about saints and peasants. It seems Calabria was a 3rd world country back then. No menntion however of Bruzzano, where my great-grandfather came from.
Apr 21, 2016 Patrick rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
My Modern Library edition of this book contains no background information, not even the date of publication (apparently it was 1915, but the book makes no mention of WWI), but Norman Douglas seems to be one of the old-school British pedants who, having fled to other lands so that they could be freer to indulge their vices, could make a good living scoffing at the habits and conditions of lesser peoples outside of the Home Counties. He is a good stylist, but, for the most part, he has nothing but ...more
Kris Kipling
One sees where Nabokov got his penchant for wryly comical indexes. For example:

Breakfast in Italy, dislocates moral stability, 18, 125; responsible for homicides, 127.

Charity, a form of self-indulgence, 311.

Devil, his perennial popularity, 25; his honesty, 266.

Emigrants to America, their wine-bibbing propensities and intelligence, 21-22.

Norman Douglas, a now forgotten author, was in his day famous for his novel South Wind and his travel books. This one, from 1915, follows the author's journey th
Feb 18, 2013 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Norman Douglas's "Old Calabria," has many of the qualities of the other Douglas books I've read ("Siren Land" and "Fountains in the Sand'), in that it was filled with scholarly digressions and asides, lengthy passages in foreign languages which are left untranslated, and often hilarious criticisms of the backwardness and ignorance of the locals. It discusses a part of Italy which even today few travelers visit, and it approaches the subject matter in a slow, meditative way. The text immerses you ...more
Anna Puleo
I luoghi si assimilano sempre più l’uno all’altro. Cambia lo skyline delle città, ma negozi e centri commerciali, l’intreccio tentacolare di strade e tangenziali, neon e cartelloni pubblicitari sono identici. La globalizzazione livella il nostro gusto e il modo di stare al mondo, confusi in anonimi non luoghi dove spazio e tempo sono ridotti al loro grado zero.

Restituire il loro volto ai luoghi significa recuperarne l’identità e l’anima profonda, stratificazione di ere, storia, memorie che si di
Mike Pattrick
This is not a particularly easy read. The book was published in 1915 and some of the language is not easy to follow. The author seems to enjoy obscure and unusual words. Some of them are perhaps of his own invention. Some of the chapters are a little tedious. He writes about trying to find a room , food and drink, or hiring a donkey and its owner. He seemed to take pleasure in beating down the locals when it comes to negotiating payment. He justifies this in saying that this is the way to get th ...more
Mar 24, 2008 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I liked this book. It had interesting information about southern Italy. Also some funny stories.

I enjoyed the writing style, although it's certainly not the type of book that made me dive into every day. I had to be in a slightly more serious mind-set.

There were chapters which I skipped over, such as his analysis of "Paradise Lost"...honestly, I just didn't care to try to be interested.

I would recommend it to people who can handle a more serious read with slightly more complex sentence structure
Pete rated it liked it
Jan 03, 2013
Melissa Kosmicki
Melissa Kosmicki rated it it was amazing
Aug 23, 2013
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Feb 29, 2012
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Dec 30, 2014
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Jul 23, 2013
Michelle rated it liked it
Dec 06, 2008
Lyn Elliott
Lyn Elliott rated it really liked it
Aug 19, 2015
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Nov 22, 2011
Jennifer Pulling
Jennifer Pulling rated it really liked it
Sep 15, 2015
Lucy rated it it was ok
Aug 15, 2013
Quarterly rated it it was amazing
Jan 07, 2013
S. L.
S. L. rated it really liked it
Jul 20, 2015
Carlton rated it it was ok
Feb 02, 2016
Michael rated it really liked it
Oct 10, 2012
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Mar 12, 2015
Alison rated it really liked it
Aug 14, 2012
Leon Argamasilla
Leon Argamasilla rated it it was ok
Jul 24, 2011
Feb 26, 2012 Ted rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The text was on the small side.
Brian R
Brian R rated it it was amazing
Jan 12, 2016
Iolandi rated it liked it
Oct 26, 2012
Joshua Peters
Joshua Peters rated it really liked it
Feb 01, 2016
Mary Mcclain
Mary Mcclain rated it it was ok
Jul 07, 2011
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Old Calabria by Norman Douglas 1 1 May 30, 2016 09:16AM  
Norman Douglas was born in Thüringen, Austria (his surname was registered at birth as Douglass). His mother was Vanda von Poellnitz. His father was John Sholto Douglas (1845-1874), manager of a cotton mill, who died when Norman was about six. Norman was brought up mainly at Tilquhillie, Deeside, his paternal home. He was educated at Uppingham School England, and then at a grammar school in Karlsru ...more
More about Norman Douglas...

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