Concept

Christ Stopped at Eboli

Summary
Christ Stopped at Eboli (Cristo si è fermato a Eboli) is a memoir by Carlo Levi, published in 1945, giving an account of his exile from 1935-1936 to Grassano and Aliano, remote towns in southern Italy, in the region of Lucania which is known today as Basilicata. In the book he gives Aliano the invented name Gagliano (based on the local pronunciation of Aliano). "The title of the book comes from an expression by the people of Gagliano who say of themselves, 'Christ stopped short of here, at Eboli' which means, in effect, that they feel they have been bypassed by Christianity, by morality, by history itself—that they have somehow been excluded from the full human experience." Levi explained that Eboli, a location in the region of Campania to the west near the seacoast, is where the road and railway to Basilicata branched away from the coastal north-south routes. Carlo Levi was a doctor, writer and painter, a native of Turin. In 1935, Levi's anti-fascist beliefs and activism led to his banishment by Benito Mussolini's fascist government to a period of internal exile in a remote region of southern Italy. Despite his status as a political exile Levi was welcomed with open arms, for the people of this area were naturally gracious hosts. His book, Christ Stopped At Eboli, focuses on his year in the villages of the Lucania region and the people he encountered there. The villages of Grassano and Gagliano were extremely poor. They lacked basic goods because there were no shops in the village. A typical though meager diet consisted of bread, oil, crushed tomatoes, and peppers. The villages did not have many modern items, and those they did were not often utilized. The one public toilet (and only bathroom) in the town did not have running water, and stood as a retreat for animals rather than people. Also, only one car was found in the area. Homes were sparsely furnished; the most frequent decoration consisted of an American dollar, a photo of the American president Roosevelt, or the Madonna di Viggiano displayed on their walls.
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