By Bengt Jangfeldt
Axel Munthe: the line to San Michele tells for the 1st time the riveting life-story of a unprecedented person, who got here to outline the days he lived in. The precociously shiny son of a Swedish pharmacist, Axel Munthe labored below Jean Martin Charcot, and in 1880, grew to become the youngest health care provider in French historical past. via the Nineties, he was once world-famous for his therapeutic powers, believed via a few to be supernatural. He moved within the such a lot vibrant and exalted circles of fin-de-si?cle Europe, counting among his pals Henry James, Howard Carter, Rainer Maria Rilke, woman Ottoline Morrell and count number Zeppelin. even though general practitioner to the Swedish courtroom, the place he turned the sweetheart of the Crown Princess Victoria, Munthe used to be extra at domestic with nature than with humans. He travelled via remotest Lapland, in addition to throughout Europe, and his nice love used to be animals, which he went to nice lengths to guard. In 1929 he released the tale of San Michele, an account of his lifestyles, shot via together with his love for Italy and Capri, the place he outfitted a fowl sanctuary and the home of his desires, the Villa San Michele. The ebook turned a world most sensible vendor, translated into forty languages, and has turn into one of many classics of the final century. Bengt Jangfeldt is the 1st individual to have undergone Munthe’s diaries, letters and notebooks to supply this definitive account of 1 of twentieth Century Europe’s so much vivid figures. Written with the verve and enthusiasm of its topic, Axel Munthe: the line to San Michele conjures up a misplaced time, a lifetime of passions, and a guy who believed in each feel within the energy of desires.
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Additional resources for Axel Munthe: The Road to San Michele
This time, in the summer of 1884, the epidemic was believed to have been carried to Toulon by a French warship, from where it soon spread to Marseilles. The first cases in the north Italian town of La Spezia were reported at the end of July. When Axel opened his Stockholms Dagblad on 1 September he would have read, under the heading ‘Cholera’, that the epidemic had claimed its first victims in Naples: three people had fallen ill and two had died. Two days later, the daily toll of sick and dead in Naples was 122 and sixtynine respectively, which accounted for more than half of all the cases in the whole of Italy.
By 5 October Axel was still in the French capital, but he seems to have set out for Naples via Rome the same day. In an undated letter written immediately after his arrival, he described his first impressions for Sigrid von Mecklenburg: Morning in the cholera hospital instead of walks in the forest, the forenoon spent opening corpses in the search for cholera bacteria instead of cigarettes after coffee and a walk with the Baron to meet the postman. indd 31 03/01/2008 10:32:38 32 — the dream — poor quarter, where a wretchedness that is nameless meets my eyes.
Gradually, as the train approaches more southerly climes, Axel revives; mild breezes float in from Sorrento and ‘far away, like a beautiful mirage, floated Capri’s blue island’. indd 33 03/01/2008 10:32:39 34 — the dream — instead, ‘old friendly thoughts of loving gratitude towards the beautiful country awoke from their winter sleep of long working days far away from sun and summer’: Never before had I felt how strong was the link which bound me to this country; it is not in the moments of joy that one feels how much one cares for a friend, it is when one is told that he is unhappy, and in sorrow, that the secret voices of one’s heart speak out and give utterance to the most silent thoughts of one’s soul.