Norman Lewis

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Norman Lewis (28 June 190822 July 2003) was an influential British journalist and a prolific travel author.


Naples '44[edit]

  • This was the greatest invasion in this war so far – probably the greatest in human history – and the sea was crowded to the horizon with uncountable ships, but we were as lost and ineffective as babes in the wood.
  • Nothing, absolutely nothing that can be tackled by the human digestive system is wasted in Naples.
  • He proved to be one of the four thousand lawyers of Naples, ninety per cent of whom – surplus to the needs of the courts – had never practised, and who for the most part lived in extreme penury.
  • [...]he addresses all and sundry with old-fashioned politeness as lei.
  • It is astonishing to witness the struggles of this city so shattered, so starved, so deprived of all those things that justify a city’s existence, to adapt itself to a collapse into conditions which must resemble life in the Dark Ages. People camp out like Bedouins in deserts of brick.
  • Inexplicably no boats are allowed out, but nothing is said in the proclamation about rafts. Everyone improvises and adapts.
  • [...]everybody used the polite form of address lei instead of the Fascists’ forthright Roman voi.
  • The facts are, as every Italian will admit, that the South is virtually a colony of the industrialised North.
  • There are no police to deal with the thousands of squalid little crimes like this committed every day in the city.
  • [...]since humanity is above partisanship, the Italians are no doubt equally kind to Germans who come to them for help in similar circumstances, and I find it deplorable that we should show anger and vindictiveness when cases of Italians showing even ordinary compassion to their one-time allies come to our notice.
  • The Italians of the South live, just as Africans do, on bread dipped in olive oil.
  • In this country there are fifty lawyers to every one policeman, and the lawyers expect to win.
  • If it is a fact that in Naples everything is for sale, how much more true must this be in Poggio Reale?
  • Naples is extraordinary in every way.
  • All things in Naples are arranged with as much civility as possible.
  • A problem has arisen. Although I handed in my army rations to the cook, with the intention of living on these, nobody has taken me seriously, nor believed that any human being in his right mind and able to eat pasta would refrain from doing so.
  • A year ago we liberated them from the Fascist Monster, and they still sit doing their best to smile politely at us, as hungry as ever, more disease-ridden than ever before, in the ruins of their beautiful city where law and order have ceased to exist. And what is the prize that is to be eventually won? The rebirth of democracy. The glorious prospect of being able one day to choose their rulers from a list of powerful men, most of whose corruptions are generally known and accepted with weary resignation. The days of Benito Mussolini must seem like a lost paradise compared with this.
  • A year among the Italians had converted me to such an admiration for their humanity and culture that I realise that were I given the chance to be born again and to choose the place of my birth, Italy would be the country of my choice.
  • There is an inherent Mediterranean austerity much in evidence in the Naples area, in Sorrento and Capri, which seems to come from the sea, since it is hardly to be found inland.
  • To my surprise, definite occupation was found for me on my last visit to HQ: to investigate the motives of a clandestine political party operating in this area... Some are regarded as more purposeful and sinister including the one to be investigated, called Forza Italia!, which is suspected of Neo-Fascist leanings. My contacts in Benevento dismiss it with scorn as just another maniac right-wing movement backed by the landlords and the rural Mafia, run in this case by a half-demented latifundista who proclaims himself a reincarnation of Garibaldi.

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