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The Ancient Shore: Dispatches from Naples


The Ancient Shore: Dispatches from Naples Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Born in Australia, Shirley Hazzard first moved to Naples as a young woman in the 1950s to take up a job with the United Nations. It was the beginning of a long love affair with the city. The Ancient Shore collects the best of Hazzards writings on Naples, along with a classic New Yorker essay by her late husband, Francis Steegmuller. For the pair, both insatiable readers, the Naples of Pliny, Gibbon, and Auden is constantly alive to them in the present.


With Hazzard as our guide, we encounter Henry James, Oscar Wilde, and of course Goethe, but Hazzards concern is primarily with the Naples of our own time—often violently unforgiving to innocent tourists, but able to transport the visitor who attends patiently to its rhythms and history. A town shadowed by both the symbol and the reality of Vesuvius can never fail to acknowledge the essential precariousness of life—nor, as the lover of Naples discovers, the human compassion, generosity, and friendship that are necessary to sustain it.


Beautifully illustrated by photographs from such masters as Henri Cartier-Bresson and Herbert List, The Ancient Shore is a lyrical letter to a lifelong love: honest and clear-eyed, yet still fervently, endlessly enchanted.


“Much larger than all its parts, this book does full justice to a place, and a time, where ‘nothing was pristine, except the light.”—Bookforum


“Deep in the spell of Italy, Hazzard parses the difference between visiting and living and working in a foreign country. She writes with enormous eloquence and passion of the beauty of getting lost in a place.”—Susan Slater Reynolds, Los Angeles Times


“The two voices join in exquisite harmony. . . . A lovely book.”—Booklist, starred review


These little volumes, mirror images in several ways, make exquisite companions for the armchair traveler who dreams in the languages of literature and art. Each book is a love letter to an ancient Italian city by the sea: Venice, on Italy's upper thigh, and Naples, about two thirds of the way down its shin. Both are also billets doux to the marriages of their authors, each couple containing one biographer... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

About the Author

Shirley Hazzard is the acclaimed author of four books of nonfiction and six novels, including the National Book Award-winning The Great Fire. Francis Steegmuller (1906-94) was an editor, translator, critic, and literary biographer.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Italian Hours


Part I. Shirley Hazzard


A Scene of Ancient Fame

In the Shadow of Vesuvius

City of Secrets and Surprises

Naples Redux: An Ancient City Arrayed for the G-7


Part II. Francis Steegmuller

The Incident at Naples


Coda. Shirley Hazzard

Pondering Italy


Photo Credits

Product Details

Hazzard, Shirley
University of Chicago Press
Steegmuller, Francis
Essays & Travelogues
Social life and customs
Europe - Italy
Naples (Italy) Social life and customs.
Naples (Italy) Description and travel.
Travel Writing-General
Edition Description:
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8 halftones
8.5 x 5.5 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Europe » Italy » General
History and Social Science » World History » Italy
Travel » Europe » Italy
Travel » Travel Writing » General

The Ancient Shore: Dispatches from Naples New Hardcover
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Product details 144 pages University of Chicago Press - English 9780226322018 Reviews:
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