Impressions of Southern Italy : British Travel Writing from Henry Swinburne to Norman Douglas book cover
1st Edition

Impressions of Southern Italy
British Travel Writing from Henry Swinburne to Norman Douglas

ISBN 9780367868772
Published December 10, 2019 by Routledge
234 Pages

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Book Description

Naples was conventionally the southernmost stop of the Grand Tour beyond which, it was assumed, lay violent disorder: earthquakes, malaria, bandits, inhospitable inns, few roads and appalling food. On the other hand, Southern Italy lay at the heart of Magna Graecia, whose legends were hard-wired into the cultural imaginations of the educated.

This book studies the British travellers who visited Italy's Southern territories. Spanning the late eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, the author considers what these travellers discovered, not in the form of a survey, but as a series of unfolding impressions disclosing multiple Southern Italies. Of the numerous travellers analysed within this volume, the central figures are Henry Swinburne, Craufurd Tait Ramage and Norman Douglas, whose Old Calabria (1915) remains in print. Their appeal is that they take the region seriously: Southern Italy wasn't simply a testing ground for their superior sensibilities, it was a vibrant curiosity, unknown but within reach. Was the South simply behind on the road to European integration; or was it beyond a fault line, representing a viable alternative to Northern neuroses? The travelogues analysed in this book address a wide variety of themes which continue to shape discussions about European identity today.

Table of Contents

Introduction  1. Naples: Liminal City  2. Cities of the Dead: Pompeii to Paestum  3. Magna Graecia  4. Ways of Seeing: Earthquakes and Landscapes  5. Politics and Revolutions  6. In Praise of Baroque  7. Myths and Legends  8. Africa and the Orient  Conclusion

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Sharon Ouditt is Reader in English at Nottingham Trent University, UK. She is the author of Fighting Forces, Writing Women: Identity and Ideology in the First World War (1993) and Women Writers of the First World War: An Annotated Bibliography (1999), and editor of Displaced Persons: Conditions of Exile in European Culture (2002).


"This wide-ranging study illuminates how travelers to Southern Italy made sense of a rich and strange world which challenged many British cultural and political assumptions." – Katherine Turner, Mary Baldwin College, USA

"This book offers a rich portrait of the southern regions of the peninsula as seen through the eyes of British travellers from the eighteenth century to today. It will confirm some of the stereotypes readers of books about Italy are inevitably familiar with, but it is equally likely to challenge others." – Loredana Polezzi, University of Warwick, UK