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Old Calabria

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  35 ratings  ·  8 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 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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.
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
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
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
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
Old Calabria by Norman Douglas (1962)
The text was on the small side.
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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...
South Wind Siren Land Venus in the Kitchen: or Love's Cookery Book Some Limericks Fountains in the Sand

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