Axel Munthe: The Road to San Michele” tells for the first time the riveting life-story of an extraordinary individual, who came to define the times he lived in.The precociously bright son of a Swedish pharmacist, Axel Munthe worked under Jean Martin Charcot, and in 1880, became the youngest doctor in French history. By the 1890s, he was world-famous for his healing powers, believed by some to be supernatural. He moved in the most colourful and exalted circles of fin de siecle Europe, counting amongst his friends Henry James, Howard Carter, Rainer Maria Rilke, Lady Ottoline Morrell and Count Zeppelin. Though physician to the Swedish court, where he became the lover of the Crown Princess Victoria, Munthe was more at home with nature than with people.He travelled through remotest Lapland, as well as across Europe, and his great love was animals, whom he went to great lengths to protect. In 1929 he published “The Story of San Michele”, an account of his life, shot through with his love for Italy and Capri, where he built a bird sanctuary and the house of his dreams, the Villa San Michele.
The book became an international best seller, translated into 40 languages, and has become one of the classics of the last century. Bengt Jangfeldt is the first person to have gone through Munthe’s diaries, letters and notebooks to produce this definitive account of one of 20th Century Europe’s most vibrant figures.Written with the verve and exuberance of its subject, “Axel Munthe: The Road to San Michele” evokes a lost time, a life of passions, and a man who believed in every sense in the power of dreams.