'"Life in Italy is seldom simple. One does not go there for simplicity but for interest: to make the adventure of existence more vivid, more poignant." Such a life is what Shirley Hazzard found when she first landed on the shore of Naples as a young woman in the early 1950s: underneath the devastation caused by World War II, the city that had bewitched such literary visitors as Byron and Goethe remained intact, ready to charm the patient and attentive traveler.
'That sojourn was the first step in a lifelong love affair with Naples. Along with her late husband, Francis Steegmuller, Hazzard made Naples a second home for decades, and The Ancient Shore collects the best of her writings on the city, its people, and its literary heritage. While acknowledging that Naples can be off-putting to the casual tourist, Hazzard takes readers behind the city's rebarbative face, showing the underlying beauty and unrivaled hospitality that await those who take the time to truly understand its rhythms and its history. A much-loved New Yorker essay by Steegmuller telling the harrowing story of his mugging - and the attentive care he received in its aftermath - rounds out a collection that memorably limns the inherent contradictions of contemporary Naples: prickly but passionate, violent but giving, and always breathtakingly unforgettable.
'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.' (Publisher's blurb)