Cover image for A sweet and glorious land : revisiting the Ionian Sea
A sweet and glorious land : revisiting the Ionian Sea
Keahey, John.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : T. Dunne Books, [2000]

Physical Description:
xxii. 200 pages : illustrations, maps ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DG821 .K43 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



"I eventually came across an edition of Gissing's work.... At one moment, halfway through my reading of this classic, I turned to my wife and said that I wanted to visit Italy and follow in the footsteps Gissing made in 1897 during his third and final trip to Italy:from Naples where he boarded the coastal steamer south to Paola; and from there, in a horse-drawn carriage, through the Calabrian mountains to Cosenza.From Cosenza, he went by train to Taranto and, using a combination of trains and carriages, made it all the way to Reggio di Calabria.It was a journey that covered much of the foot of Italy, principally along the coastal instep of the Ionian Sea....I wanted to see, one hundred years after Gissing, how these ancient lands looked." - from A Sweet and Glorious LandIn the winter of 1897-1898, Victorian writer George Gissing made a well-chronicled journey throughout southern Italy.The result was a book, By the Ionian Sea, in which he detailed the influence of ancient Greece on the peninsula and contrasted the glory of Greece and its magnificent cities to the southern Italy of the late 1800s.The book was published in 1901 and has since become a classic in travel literature.A hundred years later, award-winning newspaper journalist John Keahey sets off to retrace Gissing's footsteps.His goal is to compare and contrast the two Italys, seeing first-hand all the changes that have occurred over the past century.He explores the outdoor markets in Naples, journeys to the charming coastal town of Paola, takes a train ride out of the Calabrian mountain town of Cosenza and into the port city of Taranto, and makes his way down to Reggio at the toe of Italy's boot.Along the route, he visits modern-day Crotone, the Ionian coastal city that was famous in antiquity as the place where Pythagoras had his school, as well as where Hannibal, pursued for 15 years along the length of Italy by the Romans, embarked in shame for Carthage (now in modern-day Tunisia).Going beyond Gissing's journey, Keahey also makes an additional stop at Sibari near where the site of ancient Sybaris has been partially excavated.From train rides through the lush countryside to the crisp mountain air of Catanzaro, Keahey paints a beautiful and compelling picture of one of the lesser known parts of the country.Reminiscent of Under the Tuscan Sun,A Sweet and Glorious Land is not only a wonderful travelogue but also an intriguing story of southern Italy and its people.Praise for A Sweet and Glorious Land:"John Keahey's idea of visiting the shores of the Ionian Sea under the expert guidance of his predecessor, the Victorian novelist and traveller George Gissing, has proved a brilliant one, fertilizing his own originality and giving breadth to his lightly-worn learning." (Pierre Coustillas, editor of The Gissing Journal and Professor of EnglishLiterature at the University of Lille, France)AUTHORBIO: JOHN KEAHEY is a veteran newspaper journalist who, for the past ten years, has been a news editor and reporter for The Salt Lake Tribune.He has history and marketing degrees from the University of Utah and spends as much time as possible in Italy.He lives in Salt Lake City with book-designer Connie Disney.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

Under the spell of George Gissing's 1901 travelogue By the Ionian Sea, Keahey decided to retrace Gissing's footsteps through southern Italy to record the changes that have marked the region. As practicable as this premise is, it carries a major flaw: although Gissing's work has rarely been out of print since its initial publication and its author is the subject of a quarterly journal, By the Ionian Sea is not widely known. So Keahey repeats large chunks of the original text, giving his own work a secondary-source feel compounded by his recaps of several other prominent books about Italy, such as Carlo Levi's Christ Stopped at Eboli. By placing himself in such illustrious company, Keahey inadvertently drives home the shortcomings of his own account. His prose, though pleasantly conversational, does not match Gissing's, and his overfamiliar observations lack a certain depth (Naples is an exciting but dangerous city; southern Italy bears severe economic problems; etc.). Nonetheless, Keahey distinguishes himself by leading readers on a detailed trip through an area few tourists visit: Calabria, with its scattering of small towns running from mountain to sea. Fans of Gissing may delight in this travel memoir, but Keahey won't create new fans among those unfamiliar with that author. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Veteran newspaperman Keahey, now an editor and reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune, has retraced the footsteps of George Gissing, a Victorian writer (and good friend of Arthur Conan Doyle and H.G. Wells), who traveled to Southern Italy in 1897. His subsequent accounts became a classic in travel literature titled By the Ionian Sea. A hundred years later, Keahey visits such fascinating and historical destinations as Naples, Paola, Cosenza, Sybaris, Taranto, Crotone, Catanzaro, Reggio di Calabria, and Squillace and notes changes and similarities over the past century. The result is an informative and well-researched work on one of the most popular parts of Italy that provides a historical perspective on the area and its people. A detailed chronology, maps, the author's photographs, and a bibliography are all useful, but an index would have been helpful as well. Recommended for public libraries with large collections on travel and Victorian literature.DMelinda Stivers Leach, Precision Editorial Svcs., Wondervu, CO (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.