Carlo Levi's Sacred Art of Healing (1) (Essay) - Annali d'Italianistica

Carlo Levi's Sacred Art of Healing (1) (Essay)

By Annali d'Italianistica

  • Release Date - Published: 1997-01-01
  • Book Genre: Language Arts & Disciplines
  • Author: Annali d'Italianistica
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Carlo Levi's Sacred Art of Healing (1) (Essay) Annali d'Italianistica read online review & book description:

Written in 1935, the year of Carlo Levi's exile in Lucania, Charlotte Gower Chapman's Milocca: A Sicilian Village is an anthropological study of a Sicilian village based on the author's fieldwork in 1928-29. (2) Modeled on Robert Redfield's Tepoztlan, a Mexican Village (1930), Chapman's Milocca is the "only full-scale Italian village study in existence which was carried out before World War II" (Cronin 18). While Levi's Cristo si e fermato a Eboli (1945), despite its resistance to generic classification, was unquestionably the product of--among other things--its author's literary-artistic imagination, it also inaugurated a new direction in Italian anthropological research along the lines of Chapman's study as the nation sought to rediscover itself after the years of Fascism and the war. Levi's first novel, in fact, provided the "stimolo determinante" for Ernesto de Martino's expedition to Lucania in the early 1950s (Lanternari 213), fieldwork that represented the initial stage of the ethnologist's important trilogy treating religion and magic in the Mezzogiorno: Sud e magia (1959), Morto e pianto rituale nel mondo antico (1959), and La terra del rimorso (1961). From de Martino's field notes documenting his reliance on Levi's novel as a sort of vademecum for his Lucanian research, Carpitella concludes that Cristo "rappresentava un testo di riferimento che oggi diremmo squisitamente antropologico" (206). Lanternari elegantly describes the complementary roles of de Martino and Levi in the development of "una nuova coscienza di umanesimo antropologico" (213); if de Martino was the practicing anthropologist, scientifically and historically oriented, then Levi was the annunciatore e profeta d'una antropologia meridionalista assolutamente nuova, carica di passione civile e sociale, permeata da un visionarismo poetico e mossa da una vibrante sensibilita e attenzione per l'intero mondo culturale, il vissuto immediato dei contadini del Sud, scoperti da lui del tutto occasionalmente in rapporto alla sua condizione di confinato politico antifascista. (213) Although Levi has been rightly criticized, from an ethnological perspective, for his mythologizing, a-historical conception of the contadini (Carpitella 207; Lanternari 215), his "antropologia meridionalista" nevertheless inspired--in part, no doubt, because of his mythic imagination--unprecedented attention to the "other" Italy.

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