Naple‘s Underworld

Naple‘s Underworld

456 pages


Genre: Nonfiction, Essay, Sociology, Politics
An ethnological expedition to gloomy Southern side of Europa

Naples was spared from the demystification of the world, and yet it is still a modern city. It has developed an affinity for anything intermediate: Transgenders and ghosts, families built from adoptions, anonymous skulls as ancestors. In this scientific travel book Ulrich van Loyen takes us on a trip right to decipher this city‘s matrix with the help of its mortuary cults. In the alleys of Sanità, down in the lower churchs, together with Camorrisist, who are impersonating social workers, and through friendships with seers, who want to get the dead to speak, so they can bring down the political machine, one important insight becomes obvious: The everyday life is the biggest secret of all, each family is a mystery and Naples has much to say about every one of us.

German title: Neapels Unterwelt - Über die Möglichkeit einer Stadt
ISBN: 978-3-95757-471-8
Publisher: Matthes & Seitz Berlin
Publication date: 2018
Illustration: Anja Dreschke
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Complete German text available

Complete Italian translation available

Ulrich van Loyen, born 1978 in Dresden, studied Theology and Literary Studies in Munich and Rome and wrote his dissertation about Franz Baermann Steiner. Since 2014 he is a fellow at the Research Lab „Transformations of Life“ at the University of Cologne.

By the same author(s)

"...Van Loyen [narrates] an ethnological ghost novel. [...] Van Loyen shows how the ritual elevation of death leads to a communalization from below that is perhaps more symptomatic than curious in Italy's landscape of political decay." - Ronald Düker, Die ZEIT

"Ulrich van Loyen has written an unusual book with "Naples' Underworld," a scholarly work and an experiential report in one." - Thomas Steinfeld, Süddeutsche Zeitung

"One of the most particularly interesting non-fiction books of this year." - Tomas Fitzel, rbb Kulturradio

"The work is full of sharp-eyed observations, lucid explanations and clever conclusions, and it is also a linguistic pleasure to read." - Carolin Kusoch, H-Soz-Kult

"Amusing and worth reading." - Stefan Winkler, Kleine Zeitung

"Van Loyen's account is described in the blurb as an "ethnological travel book." This is an apt characterization of the work, which is as entertaining as it is scholarly. [...] A cultural, meaningful topography of the city." - Kai Nonnenmacher, Romance Studies

"It's already the case that readings like these replace travel for me. So let's go to Naples!" - Jan Kuhlbrodt, piqd