THE COLOSSUS OF MAROUSSI - Henry Miller
EURYDICE STREET: A PLACE IN ATHENS - Sofka Zinovieff
Read a review of the Miller book which led me to read the book itself, and then wanted more of Greece, so went to Eurydice Street. Henry Miller's book, published in 1941, tells of his travels in Greece in 1939-40 as war is taking over Europe. He fell in love with Greece, and the book is a rhapsody on the beauty, mystery, spirituality, joy of Greece and Greeks. At that time, Greeks were friendly towards America (not so by Zinovieff's book in 2001). Miller traveled often in the company of Laurence Durrell, an English writer who lived on Corfu, and of the Greek writer, Katsimbalis (the Colossus of the title). He gives a vivid portrait of Katsimbalis. One of his comments I particularly liked: "He saw the humorous aspect of everything, which is the real test of the tragic sense." Certainly true of Shakespeare.
Sometimes Miller rants and raves a bit too much, but more often he paints his adventures so vibrantly you feel you are there. I found some of his passages so lyrical and the insights so incisive that I bought a copy of the book after returning the library copy. It is a Greece that died with the war, and a Greece that is eternal.
EURYDICE STREET is Zinoveiff's account of her family's settling in Athens in 2001. Her husband, a Greek, had been living aboard for years. She had lived in Greece before but was brought up in London, where her divorced Russian parents lived. She presents her story and enough Greek history to give the reader context to help understand the perspective of contemporary Greeks. She too loves Greece and decides to become a citizen - a journey fraught with bureaucracy. A good trip to present day Greece for those who can't afford the passage, and for those who can, your trip will be more interesting having read this book.
MILLER: Virtual catalogue, Amazon ZINOVEIFF: Rockport Public Library, Amazon