THE STORY OF SAN MICHELE [AXEL MUNTHE] on *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. This work has been selected by scholars as being. Full text of “THE STORY OF SAN MICHELE”. See other formats. = 1 09 THE STORY OF SAN MICHELE THE STORY OF SAN MICHELE BY AXEL MUNTHE. No more a saint than Axel Munthe and nothing to compare with him, I know! it and doing so I was steered towards The Story of San Michele.

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Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels 9 and prevailednot; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out thf that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: First Edition July Reprinted Oct. Some have described the book as an Auto- biography, others have called it ” The Memoirs of a Doctor. Surely it could not have taken me five hundred pages to write down the story of my life, even had I not left out its saddest and most eventful chapters.

All I can say is that I never meant to write a book about my- self; it was, on the contrary, my constant pre- occupation the whole time to try to shake off this vague personality.

If anyhow this book has turned out to be an Autobiography, I begin michelf believe that, judging from the sale of it, the simplest way to write a book about oneself consists in trying as hard as one can to think of somebody else.

All a man has to do is to sit still in a chair by himself, wxel look back upon his life with his blind eye. Bet- ter still would be to lie down in the grass and not to think at all, only to listen. To call this book ” The Memoirs of a Doctor,” as some reviewers have done, seems to me even less appropriate.

Its boisterous imchele, its un- blushing frankness, its very lucidity fit ill with such a pompous sub-title. Surely a medical man, like every other human being, has the right to laugh at himself now and then to keep up his spirits, maybe even to laugh at his colleagues if he is willing to stand the risk. But he has no right to laugh at his patients.

To shed tears with them is even worse, a whimpering doctor is a bad doc- tor. An old physician should, besides, think twice before sitting down in his arm-chair to write his memoirs.

Better keep to himself what he has seen of Life and Death. Better write no memoirs at all, and leave the dead in peace and the living to their illusions.

Somebody has called the Story of San Michele a story of Death. Maybe muntje is so, for Death is seldom out of my thoughts, “Non nasce in me pensier che pf vi sia dentro scolpita la Morte” wrote Michel Angelo to Vasari. I have been wrestling so long with my grim colleague; always defeated, I have seen him slay one by one all those I have tried to save.

I have had a few of them in mind in this book as I saw them live, as I saw them suffer, as I saw them lie down to die. It was all that I could do for them. They were all humble people, no marble crosses stand on their graves, many of them were already for- gotten long before mynthe died. They kf all right now. Down the stately peristyle of lapis-lazuli columns dan briskly little Monsieur Alphonse, the doyen of the Little Sisters of the Poor, in the Pittsburg millionaire’s brand-new frock-coat, solemnly rais- ing his beloved top hat to every saint he meets, as he used to do to all my friends when he drove down the Corso in my victoria.

John, the blue- eyed little boy who never smiled, is now playing lustily with lots of other happy children in the old nursery of the Bambino. He has learnt to smile at last. Mixhele whole room is full of flowers, singing birds are flying in and out through the open windows, now and then the Madonna looks in to see that the children have all they want.

John’s mother, who nursed Mm so tenderly in Avenue des Villiers, is still down here. I saw her the other day. Poor Flopette, the harlot, looks ten years younger than when I saw her in the night-cafe on the boulevard; very tidy o neat in her white dress, she is now second housemaid to Mary Magdalen.


In a humble corner of the Elysian Fields is the cemetery of the dogs.

All my dead friends are there, their bodies are still where I laid them down under the cypresses by the old Tower, but their faithful hearts have been taken up here.

Rocco, the little patron-saint of all dogs, is the custodian of the cemetery, and good old Miss Hall is a frequent visitor there. Even the rascal Billy, the drunkard Baboon, who set fire to II Canonico Don Giacinto’s coffin, has been admitted on trial to the last row of graves in the monkey cemetery some way off, after a close scrutiny from St. Peter, who noticed he smelled of whisky and mistook him at first for a human being.

Don Giacinto himself, the richest priest in Capri, who had never given a penny to the poor, is still roast- ing in his coffin, and the ex-butcher of Anacapri, who blinded the quails with a red-hot needle, has had his own eyes stung out by the Devil in person in a fit of professional jealousy.

One reviewer has discovered that “there is enough material in the Story of San Michele to furnish writers of short sensational stories with plots for the rest of their lives. I have no further use for it. Having concen- trated my literary efforts during a lifetime on writing prescriptions, I am not likely to try my hand on short sensational stories so late in the day. Would that I had thought of it before, or I should not be where I am today!

Surely it must be a more comfortable job to sit in an arm-chair and write short sensational stories than to toil through life to collect the material for them, to describe diseases and Death than to fight them, to concoct sinister plots than to be knocked down by them without warning!

But why do not these professionals collect their material themselves? Specialists on disease and Death can seldom be persuaded to come with you to the hospital where they have just finished off their heroine.

Poets and philoso- phers, who in sonorous verse and prose hail Death as the Deliverer, often grow pale at the very mention of the name of their best friend.

It is an old story. Leopardi, the greatest poet of modern Italy, who longed for Death in exquisite rhymes ever since he was a boy, was the first to fly in abject terror from cholera-stricken Naples.

Even the great Montaigne, whose calm medita- tions on Death are enough to make him immortal, bolted like a rabbit when the peste broke out in Bordeaux. Sulky old Schopenhauer, the greatest philosopher of modern times, who had made the negation of life the very keystone of his teaching, used to cut short all conversation about Death.

The Story of San Michele – Wikipedia

The bloodiest war novels were written, I believe, by peaceful citizens well out of the range of the long-distance German guns. Authors who delight in making their readers assist at scenes of sexual orgies are generally very indifferent actors in such scenes. Personally I only know of one exception to this rule, Giiy de Maupassant, and I saw him die of it. I am aware that some of the scenes in this book are laid on the ill-defined borderland between the real and the unreal, the dangerous No Man’s Land between fact and fancy where so many writers munnthe memoirs have come to grief and where Goethe himself was apt to lose his bearings in his “Dichtung und Wahrheit.

It will be a great relief to me if I have succeeded, I do not ask for better than not to be believed. It is bad enough and sad enough anyhow. God knows I have a good deal to answer for as it is. I shall also take it as a compliment, for thfe greatest writer of short sen- sational stories I know is Life. But is Life always true? Life is the same as it always was, unruffled by events, indifferent to the joys and sorrows mixhele man, mute and incomprehensible as the sphinx.

But the stage on which the everlasting tragedy is enacted changes constantly to avoid monotony. The world we lived in yesterday is not the same world as we live in to-day, inexorably it moves on through the infinite towards its doom, and so do we. No man bathes twice in the same river, said Heraclitus.

Some of us crawl on our knees, some ride on horseback or shory motor-cars, others fly past the carrier-pigeon in aeroplanes. There is no need for hurry, we are all sure to reach the journey’s end.


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No, the world I lived in when I was young is not the same world that I live in to-day, at least it does not seem so to me. Nor do I think it will seem so to those who read this book of rambles in search of adventure in the past. There are no more brigands with a record of eight homicides to offer you to sleep on their mattresses in od down Messina.

The maddened rats in the cholera slums of Naples, who frightened me to death, have long ago retreated in safety to their Roman sewers.

You can drive up to Anacapri in a motor-car, and to the top of the Jungfrau in a train, and climb the Matterhorn with rope-ladders. The gallant old bear, who barred my way in the lonely Suvla gorge, has long ago departed to the Happy Hunting Fields. The foaming torrent I swam across with Bistin, the Lap-girl, is spanned by a railway-bridge. The last stronghold of the terrible Stalo, the Troll, has been pierced by a tunnel.

The Little People I heard patter about under the floor of the Lap tent, no more bring food to the sleeping bears in their winter quarters, that is why there are so few bears in Sweden to-day. You are welcome to laugh incredulously at these busy Little People as much as you like, at your own risk and peril. But I refuse to believe that any reader of this book will have the effrontery to deny that it was a real goblin I saw sitting on the table in Forsstugan and pull cautiously at my Watch-chain.

Of course it was a real goblin. Who stogy it otherwise have been? I tell you I saw him distinctly with both my eyes when I sat up in my bed just as the tallow candle was flickering out. I am told to my surprise that there are people who have never seen a goblin. One cannot help feeling sorry for such people. I am sure there must be something wrong with their eyesight. But the little goblin I saw sitting cross-legged on the table in the attic over the cow- stall is alive.

It is only we who die. Henry James was to be one of my sponsors, he had just been naturalized himself, ” Civis Britannicus sum,” he said in his deep voice. He laid his hand on my shoulder and thw me what I was going to do with myself?

I told him I was about to leave France for good to hide like a deserter in my old tower. It was the only place I was micheoe for.

As he wished me good-bye he reminded me how years ago when he was staying with me at San Michele he had encouraged me to write a book about my island home, which he had called the most beautiful place in the world.

Why not write the Story of San Michele now if it came to the worst and my cour- age began to flag? Who could write about San Michele better than I who had built it with my own hands? Who could describe better than I all these priceless fragments of marbles strewn over the gar- den where the villa of Tiberius once stood? There was nothing like writing a book for a man who wanted to get away from his own misery, nothing like writing a book for a man who could not sleep.

These were his last words, I never saw my friend again. I returned to my useless solitude in the old tower, humiliated and despondent. While every- body else was offering his life to his country, I spent my days wandering up and down in the dark tower, restless midhele a caged animal, while the never- ending tidings of suffering and woe were read to me. Now and then of an evening when the relent- less light of the day had ceased hhe torture my eyes, I used to wander up to San Michele in search of news.

The flag of the British Red Munnthe was flying over San Michele where brave and disabled men were nursed back to health by the same sun that had driven me away from my beloved home. Alas for the news!