The Rambling Writer’s Reading List for Greece

As you read this, I’ll be winding up my long-anticipated return trip to Greece. It will be very different, I’m sure, from my months-long backpacking adventure in the 1980s, but I’m also sure it will once more be magic. It’s the word–Magic–that Greece conjures for so many. Layered with history and myth, the landscape and culture can hardly help generating wonder.

I’ll be revisiting some special places, and exploring new ones as I research settings for my novel-in-progress THE ARIADNE DISCONNECT, sequel to THE ARIADNE CONNECTION. Here are a few of the books I read or reread that capture the flavor of the country:

Lawrence Durrell, THE GREEK ISLANDS. These musings by Durrell on his long love affair with the islands is a sensual delight, with beautiful photos to stir the imagination.

Also by Durrell, REFLECTIONS ON A MARINE VENUS. Another Durrell memoir takes us to Rhodes, which I’ll be visiting for the first time.

About the recovery of a statute of Aphrodite (Roman name Venus) from the sea off Rhodes: “She rose as if foamborn, turning that elegant body slowly from side to side, as if bowing to her audience. The sea-water had sucked at her for centuries till she was like some white stone jujube, with hardly a feature sharp as the burin must originally have left it. Yet such was the grace of her composition–the slender neck and breasts on that richly modelled torso, the supple line of arm and thigh–that the absence of firm outline only lent her a soft and confusing grace.”

About a visit to a traditional celebration: “I am reminded, as so often in Greece, that dancing is never a performance so much as a communal rite–the transmission of an enigmatic knowledge which the musician has summoned up from below the earth.”

Henry Miller, THE COLOSSUS OF MAROUSSI. This is Miller’s exuberant, nearly hallucinatory love poem to all things Greek: “At Epidauros, in the stillness, in the great peace that came over me, I heard the heart of the world beat.” And at Phaestos on Crete: “The rain has stopped, the clouds have broken; the vault of blue spreads out like a fan, the blue decomposing into that ultimate violet light which makes everything Greek seem holy, natural and familiar. In Greece one has the desire to bathe in the sky. You want to rid yourself of your clothes, take a running leap and vault into the blue. You want to float in the air like an angel or lie in the grass rigid and enjoy the cataleptic trance. Stone and sky, they marry here.”

Richard Geldard, THE TRAVELER’S KEY TO ANCIENT GREECE. The author discusses the history of several ancient sacred places, including Delphi, Knossos, and Epidauros.

Patricia Storace, DINNER WITH PERSEPHONE. I had mixed reactions to this collection of essays by the American poet who spent a year in the 90s living and traveling in Greece. Her observations are acute, if often rather negative, and she provides a cultural and historical context to contemporary Greeks.

This is only a small sample that I hope might whet your appetite for travel! Since many of you enjoyed my blog series about my earlier Greek travels, I’ll start a new series about this trip on my return. “Chairete!” (Rejoice!)

*****

You will find The Rambling Writer’s blog posts here on alternate Saturdays. Sara’s newest novel from Book View Cafe was recently released in print and ebook: The Ariadne Connection.  It’s a near-future thriller set in the Greek islands. “Technology triggers a deadly new plague. Can a healer find the cure?”  The novel has received the Cygnus Award for Speculative Fiction.

 

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