Christ Stopped at Eboli Characters

Carlo Levi

Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Carlo Levi

Carlo Levi (LAY-vee), a physician and political prisoner, the narrator and protagonist of the story. Kind, contemplative, artistic, and observant, he has a deep compassion for those who are poor, ill, and disadvantaged. A painter by vocation, he would prefer merely to observe without becoming directly involved, but he cannot. His political imprisonment involves being sent to live in a small and remote southern Italian village, where he is watched closely at all times. He records the experiences and the impressions of his sojourn.

Luigi Magalone

Luigi Magalone (lew-EE-gee mah-gah-LOH-neh), the mayor. Smug and self-satisfied, the Fascist mayor enjoys the power and the prestige of his position. He gives orders to the prisoners for the sheer pleasure of seeing his requests enacted and is particularly zealous in the literal and unwavering application of Fascist laws and regulations in his village.

Giulia Venere

Giulia Venere (jee-EW-leeah veh-NEH-rah), Carlo Levi’s housekeeper. She is a middle-aged woman who is hardworking, unemotional, and strong. She is ignorant but is naturally intelligent and practical. Her life is linked to superstitions and traditions. Despite her natural wisdom and knowledge of life, she firmly believes in...

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The Characters

(Literary Essentials: World Fiction)

Carlo Levi makes no attempt to disguise the autobiographical nature of his main character. In all the important particulars, Carlo corresponds to the author of Christ Stopped at Eboli, and it is unlikely that Levi needed to invent many of the other characters. His mode of presentation might be described as good reporting, except that reporters seldom spend so much time with their subjects, interact with them so extensively, or reflect on them so profoundly.

The gentry are largely of the sort who would be inconsequential anywhere but in their own town. They are idle, petty, and pretentious. The mayor is quick to assure Carlo that he, too, is a cultivated man, and his sister assumes the responsibility for finding Carlo a wife from among the small number of local worthies, an honor which he carefully evades. She is the leader of the Fascist Party, despite her indifference to politics, because she knows that power and prestige accrue to the position. Old Dr. Milillo at once establishes his class’s perspective on the peasantry: “Good people, but primitive.” Thus deftly Levi conveys the dubious superiority exuded by the minimally functioning upper class of the town.

The peasants interest Carlo far more. Individually, they play minor roles, with only Giulia, the earthy housekeeper, present daily in Carlo’s routine; collectively, however, they constitute the discovery that makes his year in Gagliano memorable. To this educated man...

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Catani, R.D. “Structure and Style as Fundamental Expression: The Works of Carlo Levi and Their Poetic Ideology,” in Italica. LVI (1979), pp. 213-229.

Pacifici, Sergio. “Carlo Levi: The Essayist as a Novelist,” in The Modern Italian Novel: From Pea to Moravia, 1979.

Pacifici, Sergio. “The New Writers,” in A Guide to Contemporary Italian Literature, 1962.

Segrete, Carte. Carlo Levi, 1970.