"...the miraculous accounts of travellers, their description of sea and land monsters, their relation of wonderful adventures, strange men and uncouth manners." -- DAVID HUME: Essay on Miracles
To Elizabeth Boothman Taylor in memoriam
One Sunday morning, many years ago, while we were spending our summer holidays on the hills marking the boundary between Germany and Austria i went with my mother to a toy factory near Strasskirchen where she had been invited to attend a ceremony in honour of the Spielzeugfabrik's oldest and most zealous worker who was to receive a reward for his fifty years of service.
A jet-black bird, of course:but - I dare hope- with silver-lined wings, which will catch a beam of light in their endless flight to immortality.
The material for this book came from the writer's experience as a doctor and administrator in Italy's former African colonies. Children, animals and magic are the main themes. There is the story of Shambowa, who sported with sharks and was loved by a dolphin; of the Prior of Barentu who could talk to the wart-hogs; of the Father of the Crocodiles; of Hassib, the boy who was driven to distraction by La Reine des Tom-Toms; of the parrot who got drunk... The Duke wrote this book, not in his native Italian but in English: a gesture to celebrate his pleasure at revisiting this country, last year, for the first time since 1939.