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Prospero's Cell (Faber Library 4): Guide to the Landscape and Manners of the Island of Corfu Kindle Edition
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"... drenched in the silver of olives on the north-western coast. The little bay lies in a trance, drugged with its own extraordinary perfection - a conspiracy of light, air, blue sea and cypresses. [ .....] For the benefit of the more recondite, or for the mere specialist, one must record the existence of a great cave in the point immediately before the beach marked Hermones on the maps."
Durrell asserts that the best way to understand the character of Odysseus is to get to know modern Greeks who still display the ancient hero's temperament of a refusal to see things as they are : to live the 'myth' rather than the 'reality'. What, I wonder, would Durrell have made of the Greeks sitting along the low wall outside the Government offices below a banner demanding "pay us our wages and our pensions"? What does Athena whisper in their ears as British and German tourists saunter past their banner on the way between the town and the beach to spend euros in the bars and tavernas?
That anagram of 'Kerkyra' (as I think it should be transliterated) doesn't quite work. It's author, though a real person, is a fabulist for whom the imaginative construction of reality is superior to the tyranny of fact. Durrell knows this, but his memoir itself has the air of a construction, a narrative based on a willed view of the island, though also one based firmly on his experiences of living there.
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It is an erudite and beautiful diary-like account of the author's day to day life in pre-war Corfu.Read more