APT Basilicata

APT Basilicata

Basilicata turistica

Levi Carlo

Carlo Levi, doctor, artist, and militant antifascist was born in Turin on November 29, 1902. He died in Rome on January 4, 1975. He joined the movement “Giustizia e libertà”, founded by the Rosselli brothers. He renounced a brilliant academic career in medicine and took up painting and journalism. In 1934 he was arrested for the first time, to be released after two months. He was then arrested for the second time, together with Cesare Pavese, Franco Antonicelli, and Remo Garosci. On August 1935, he was sentenced to three years of political exile in Lucania-Basilicata, in Grassano first, then in Aliano.

He stayed there for nine months only, but that was more than enough to get to know a land and a civilization which were unknown, and whose representation and celebration took literary form with high lyrical intensity in Christ Stopped At Eboli (Cristo si è fermato ad Eboli, 1945, Torino, Einaudi). The novel scored a sensational success, was widely translated and became famous all over the world. It was thanks to that book that the truth about living conditions in Lucania, emblematic of all the South, was revealed to the country and the international community after the fascist cover-up.

The novel, whose literary quality is undisputed, is a pretty complex one, being a fusion of novel, essay, and journal. Together with the denunciation is the affliction and the compassion for a condition of suffering, isolation and violence inflicted on human beings, and the stronger the humiliation the greatest the dignity of the peasants. The leitmotiv of the book, and of Levi’s poetics and philosophy, is his faith in human nature, which Levi considers essentially good, though industrial civilization is doing its best to corrupt it through selfishness and individualism. Carlo Levi does not deny progress, as some wrongly interpreted. The point is progress must not deny or corrupt human nature, but preserve it, even if in the new shapes originated by technology, science and history. In other words, the point is the building of a “future with an ancient heart,” that is to say the building of the “future of the antiquity.”

In the years following the fall of Fascism, Levi, never neglectful of his commitment to the cause of the humiliated and the injured, fought for the republic, was close to Scotellaro, sat in parliament as independent senator among the PCI group. Later on, after emigration had scattered southern peasants throughout the world, Levi founded, together with Paolo Cinanni, the FILEF (Italian Federation of Emigrants and Families), through which he once more raised as the champion of the outcasts.

Levi was buried in Aliano, where he first met the peasant civilization, and where he became conscious of the direction which his life and his work of artist were to take. Among his other ‘narrative’ works are The Watch (L’orologio, 1950, Torino, Einaudi), Words Are Stones (Le parole sono pietre, 1955, Torino, Einaudi), Il futuro ha un cuore antico (1956, Torino, Einaudi), The Two-fold Night (La doppia notte dei tigli, 1959, Torino, Einaudi), Tutto il miele è finito (1964, Torino, Einaudi), none of which, however, did ever reach the artistic fullness, nor the fame, of Christ Stopped At Eboli.

Common feature to all the aforementioned books, with the exception of The Watch, is the travelling through unknown, or little known, lands (Sicily, Russia, Germany, Sardinia respectively), where the author’s imagination, more than his fantasy, could spread its wings.

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