I am planning to visit the island of Capri this summer and while browsing the guidebooks at the library this slim book Capri and No Longer Capri, by Raffaele La Capria, caught my eye. Unfortunately the book did not do much for me, and I almost considered abandoning it a few times.
It is basically a memoir/history of Capri written in a series of essays or meditations on different aspects of the island. There is some progression from the past to the present through the book; it is clear that the author put some thought into the organization and outline. Some of the content was interesting but much of it referred to people I had never heard of: he spends quite a bit of time on several individuals who spent time on Capri in the early 20th century and who all ultimately committed suicide there. I had never heard of these people and his meditations on them were not very interesting to me. I am not familiar with the myth that surrounds Capri.
The later part of the book dwelt on the loss of the island the author knew as a boy, as it has become increasing overrun by tourists and pleasure seekers. The strong sense that the past was better and we are on a downward spiral of decay was disturbing and felt overly melodramatic.
The tone of the book is strongly romantic, nostalgic, and melancholic, and I found it difficult to read. I don’t think this is due to a poor translation; I have no doubt the original Italian had this same tone – flowery, romantic language that often went in one ear and out the other for me, so to speak. Although there were bits and pieces that I enjoyed and appreciated, as a whole I felt that I could not relate to it.
I think I mainly have to conclude that this is just not my kind of book. I am, however, quite excited to visit Capri and definitely intend to do my best to go off the beaten path while there.