Vom Berge Verschlungen in Bücher bewahrt, by Helmut Presser. Bern: Schweizerischen Gutenberg Museums, 1957. 27 pages; ills. Price Sw. fr. 4.50.
On August 25 (old style), 1618, the village of Plurs, near Chiavenna in the Bregaglia valley, was destroyed by a landslide from Monte Conto, with loss of more than 2000 lives, only a few houses being left standing. The Thirty Years War had just begun, and obscured the lesser catastrophe. The present small volume gives the historical and pictorial facts, which the author likens to a 17th century Pompeii, an incorrect analogy, since no volcanic activity was involved. Other related incidents in Alpine areas are better known: the landslide of Mont Granier (1248) in Dauphiny, recorded in the Nürnberg Chronicle, and the fall of the Rossberg in 1806, which covered the Swiss village of Goldau. Plurs had become wealthy from the silk industry and from the sale of a soft stone, quarried for manufacture of pots, which alone brought the inhabitants an annual income of 60,000 ducats. Their mountain was so cut into during 1600 years that, in a sense, the villagers had dug their own graves. The gardens and palaces of rich Milanese now lie in forgotten ruins below ten meters of debris, surmounted by groves of chestnut trees.
The book contains facsimile documents and copies of old engravings, as well as a bibliography.
J. Monroe Thorington