- By John Keahey

Seeking Sicily: A Cultural Journey Through Myth and Reality in the Heart of the Mediterranean

  • Title: Seeking Sicily: A Cultural Journey Through Myth and Reality in the Heart of the Mediterranean
  • Author: John Keahey
  • ISBN: 9780312597054
  • Page: 485
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Seeking Sicily A Cultural Journey Through Myth and Reality in the Heart of the Mediterranean Keahey s exploration of this misunderstood island offers a much needed look at a much maligned land Paul Paolicelli author of Under the Southern Sun Sicily is the Mediterranean s largest and most mys

    Keahey s exploration of this misunderstood island offers a much needed look at a much maligned land Paul Paolicelli, author of Under the Southern Sun Sicily is the Mediterranean s largest and most mysterious island Its people, for three thousand years under the thumb of one invader after another, hold tightly onto a culture so unique that they remain emotionally and c Keahey s exploration of this misunderstood island offers a much needed look at a much maligned land Paul Paolicelli, author of Under the Southern SunSicily is the Mediterranean s largest and most mysterious island Its people, for three thousand years under the thumb of one invader after another, hold tightly onto a culture so unique that they remain emotionally and culturally distinct, viewing themselves first as Sicilians, not Italians Many of these islanders, carrying considerable DNA from Arab and Muslim ancestors who ruled for 250 years and integrated vast numbers of settlers from the continent just ninety miles to the south, say proudly that Sicily is located north of Africa, not south of Italy.Seeking Sicily explores what lies behind the soul of the island s inhabitants It touches on history, archaeology, food, the Mafia, and politics and looks to nineteenth and twentieth century Sicilian authors to plumb the islanders so called Sicilitudine This culture apart is best exemplified by the writings of one of Sicily s greatest writers, Leonardo Sciascia Seeking Sicily also looks to contemporary Sicilians who have never shaken off the influences of their forbearers, who believed in the ancient gods and goddesses.Author John Keahey is not content to let images from the island s overly touristed villages carry the story Starting in Palermo, he journeyed to such places as Arab founded Scopello on the west coast, the Greek ruins of Selinunte on the southwest, and Sciascia s ancestral village of Racalmuto in the south, where he experienced unique, local festivals He spent Easter Week in Enna at the island s center, witnessing surreal processions that date back to Spanish rule And he learned about Sicilian cuisine in Spanish Baroque Noto and Greek Siracusa in the southeast, and met elderly, retired fishermen in the tiny east coast fishing village of Aci Trezza, home of the mythical Cyclops and immortalized by Luchino Visconti s mid 1940s film masterpiece, La terra trema He walked near the summit of Etna, Europe s largest and most active volcano, studied the mountain s role in creating this island, and looked out over the expanse of the Ionian Sea, marveling at the three millennia of myths and history that forged Sicily into what it is today.

    1 thought on “Seeking Sicily: A Cultural Journey Through Myth and Reality in the Heart of the Mediterranean

    1. "To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything."Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Italian Journey (1786–1788) If you are looking for a standard guide book to Sicily, this might not be what you want. If however you are truly interested in the history and culture of Sicily, then this book will probably delight you as much as it did me. I visited Sicily for a few weeks in 2008 with an historian as guide, and toured Mount Etna with a [...]

    2. I read this book as I set out on a 10 day journey around the island of Sicily. Although I am sure I would have enjoyed my trip whether I had read this or not, I can say with certainty that my trip was significantly enhanced by this book. The author does so much more than re-hash the famous sites or perpetuate Sicilian stereotypes - he gets behind the scenes and gives insight into the history and culture of the place. It really brought the island to life in ways that a typical travel narrative co [...]

    3. Summary: The content in this book is fantastic, but I was less impressed with the quality of writing. I read this in preparation for a trip to Sicily, and I was glad that I had because I knew a lot more about the fascinating and complex history of the island, as well as some fun insights into the culture and collective psyche of Sicilians (did you know that the Sicilian dialect has no future tense?). However, I was less than impressed with John Keahey's writing. There wasn't much cohesion betwee [...]

    4. This is an excellent travelogue by a wonderful journalist. Keahey has his own favorite points of interest, and his narrative voice is highly agreeable; however, like any good journalist he doesn't place his own agenda first or try to make himself into the "hero" of his own journey. Instead, he records rich details and observations about his travels in a way that allows the reader to see and experience this somewhat unknown country for herself. I read this book twice.

    5. History, travelogue, witness documentation- all of the above.This explains the dissonance with Italian identity, language differences, world perception, and other self-identity issues which I have always discerned in my humans of Sicilian heritage and origin. Those who were nearly life-long Sicilians in location, as well as those who left in the early or mid 20th century diaspora.The history is so complicated and complex to invasion, hierarchy, tribal or ethnic origins, beyond factors of religio [...]

    6. For the person who is contemplating a trip to Sicily or someone, like me, who is reminiscing about a recent visit, this is an excellent read. The author links mythology, current culture, historical events and key figures, into a most readable and enjoyable experience.

    7. Despite my preference for reading fiction, I did enjoy this book. The author took a few trips to Sicily in different seasons, and recounts his travels in a leisurely paced style. Each chapter deals with a certain topic (my favorite one was on food!), and in fact it almost seems as though each chapter could have been a free-standing magazine article. This brought back many memories from our trip there last spring, but it also broadened my knowledge of the country's history and culture. The author [...]

    8. I read this book before, during, and after a trip to Sicily. It was stretched out over such a long period because at times it was very tedious to read. I enjoyed some of the information contained, but the writing style was sometimes drawn out too long or was too detailed about literature. The author was quite enamored with several Sicilian authors and spent a lot of time discussing them. If you were in on that aspect of the book, I think you would enjoy it more. It did add to what I had read abo [...]

    9. I'm giving it 3.5 stars. The history and cultural observations in this book are great for a beginner historian on Sicily. There were some areas where I wish the author had been more descriptive and provided more detail (he cites many sources for his research, and he's travelled in Sicily numerous times), but overall it is a good, light read.

    10. Enjoyed the book because we were vacationing in Sicily. I do think that the book helped my understanding of the island and as a result I probably got more out of my visit. However, it just left something missing

    11. Click on book title above for a good review. I am now biking in Sicily and the book is a good companion. So much more than a travel guide.

    12. I'm still on an ancestral homeland phase. . . .A good primer for those (like me) who know little to nothing about the history and culture of Sicily, but who don't want to get overloaded with details, rather learning vicariously through a travel author's observations. The author intersperses his travel experiences with some relevant historical background, all the while providing informative descriptions of local customs and the lives of individual Sicilians. I had heard about the Arab and Greek i [...]

    13. Received this book as a gift from my daughter, with whom I recently traveled to Sicily. Surprisingly, I like that it was researched and written by a non-Sicilian. It's easy to wax poetic about this island when one claims an ancestry here, but for one outside the clan to do so, it somehow rings truer.I learned a lot about the peasant class and the oppression and inescapable poverty they endured. Would have liked to hear more of the aristocratic class and how they obtained and maintained power.Som [...]

    14. Fortuitously, this book came out just a day or two before we left on a trip to Sicily! I liked the writing style and organization very much, as I felt like the author was sharing thoughts on various topics of immediate interest. As my husband read it first, i began reading it about a week in to our trip and found many anecdotes to answer questions I had (all of those prickly pear plants) or to match observations I'd made myself (tiny sheep legs as they hurried down the road around our car). Alth [...]

    15. I enjoyed this book and learned so much more about Sicily's past and history. It was very interesting to read about what cultures overtook the island and how those cultures were blended in with the Sicilians, where they are even very visible today. An amazing island I hope to make it back to someday.

    16. I thought this was a nice book about Sicily considering there are not many out there. I read this to learn more about the country my family came from but was a little disappointed that the author stuck to one town in Sicily and also mainly spoke about his favorite Sicilian author Leonardo Sciascia. But other than that it had a little of everything, history, culture even a couple recipes.

    17. Engaging series of essays on different facets of modern Sicily, based on the history and geography/geology of the island; focusing on the different waves of colonists and invaders over 3,000 years who added to the culture. Glad to have read it after visiting Sicily, as I think it makes more sense after having been there, but some of the information would have been helpful before traveling there.

    18. I wish this book had been written before I went to Sicily in 2005! Well written, engaging and fascinating to read about the past and present in Sicily. I wonder if Sicily is getting more tourist as a result of books like this and the Montalbano Detective series. Makes me want to go back. It's about the food!

    19. Helpful information on Sicily even if you don't go to the same towns as the author. I didn't get caught up into the chapter that dealt with all the battles that took place and instead focused more on the timeline given in the beginning of the book.

    20. Lovely journey through Sicily, certainly also interesting for those who already know Sicily quite well. Racalmuto will certainly be my next stop through that wonderful island. Recommended read for anyone setting off to Sicily for holidays or more.

    21. Interesting information but I found the writing style non engaging. It felt like I was experiencing Sicily with an outsider who would permanently remain so. He didn't delve deep enough into the topics to satisfy my interest level. Recommend with reservations

    22. Lovely little book about the most unique of Italian places. Keahey does a great job of weaving historical information with his own personal observations of the place. He also shows remarkable restraint by not always injecting himself in the story. Can't wait to visit.

    23. Less of a travel book and more of a rambling meditation on the history and character of the island. I need to get over there.

    24. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I read it on the plane to Sicily and fact-checked everything upon my arrival by talking with these beautiful people. John Keahey is right on. Grazie mille!

    25. This is an excellent book. It covers all the essentials, which makes it a perfect handbook for anyone visiting Sicily with an interest in the island's amazingly complex history.

    26. What an awesome book! It really explained the history and culture of Sicily, and was written in an easy-to-read way. Definitely recommend it to anyone who's interested in Sicily.

    27. This book will be released Nov. 8. But it can be pre-ordered at the usual locations. Here's a book trailer: bit/m1Nj4f

    28. This has interesting history, but it's not a very exciting read. I was hoping for more of a travelogue

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