Recently in Art & Literature Category

Reading Suggestions

Some of you may be interested in doing a little reading before you leave for the M-term course. Or, maybe you'd like to bring some reading with you on the trip. I've made some suggestions below.

Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis
A classic. The story follows an emotionally reserved, cerebral English businessman, who travels to Crete to oversee a mine and experience a new life. He meets a local Cretan, Alexis Zorba, who lives his life to the fullest and pursues happiness and enjoyment above all. Kazantzakis's beautiful renders Crete and its people in the period just before World War I, exploring emotional human issues including love, friendship, and death. The story is compelling and difficult to put down.

The Colossus of the Maroussi by Henry Miller
Henry Miller's Colossus of the Maroussi is more than a travel journal. Miller, the acclaimed author of Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn describes his travels through Greece in 1939-40, while weaving pieces of modern and ancient history. Through the books, we catch glimpses of a Greece that no longer exists; but more importantly, Miller breathes life into historical sites by beautifully narrating ancient events.
A nice review:

A Concise History of Greece by Richard Clogg
This in an excellent and dense history of Modern Greece. A Byzantine historian, Clogg's explanations are thorough and well-researched. The book will give you a strong sense of the political events that formed modern Greece and movements that have shaped the Greece you will experience this May.
Corelli's Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres
I have not read this, actually. The novel is set in Cephalonia, a Greek island during WWII. It follows a Greek doctor and his daughter, Pellagia, who becomes involved in a love affair with an Italian captain.

The Balkans: A Short History by Mark Mazower
Mazower, a professor of history at Columbia University, has written several histories of modern Greece, especially during and after World War II. In this book, he covers the entire region of the Balkans, explaining the complex military and political history that has shaped the regions today.

The Rough Guide to Greece
If you are going to purchase a guidebook to Greece, I would suggest this one. The history sections are fairly comprehensive (for a guide book) and the authors actually visit the sites each year to update the book.

Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Lawrence Durrell
In 1953-54, Lawrence Durrell, a English author, well-known for his books on Greek islands, lived in Cyprus. In Bitter Lemons, Durrell describes his experiences with Greeks, Turks, and the English during a particularly tense period, only six years before the English left Cyprus and the island became a sovereign nation. His descriptions of Cyprus are distincitly colonial, but are enchanting none-the-less. The book is an important historical record of Cyprus during the 1950s and serves to catalog British attitudes towards the island.

Journey into Cyprus by Colin Thubron
With only his hiking books and rucksack, Colin Thubron walked all over the island of Cyprus (over 600 miles) two decades after Durrell's stay. Thubron's book functions as the last comprehensive description of the island before the events of 1974, which divided the island in two. Again, Thubron's view is influenced by his status as an outsider and an Englishman, but the book is a powerful portrayal of an outsider's view of Cyprus, its monuments, and its people.

Rough Guide to Cyprus
Although the more recent issue of this guidebook has been abbreviated, it is still the most thorough general guide book to Cyprus. The history sections are rich and complex, and the authors handle thorny political issues well - by educating and, for the most part, staying neutral.

For more book suggestions on Cyprus, see



Ithaka by Constantine Cavafy

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
angry Poseidon-don't be afraid of them:
you'll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians, Cyclops,
wild Poseidon-you won't encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you.

Hope your road is a long one.
May there be many summer mornings when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you enter harbors you're seeing for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind-
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to learn and go on learning from their scholars.

Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you're destined for.
But don't hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you're old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you've gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich.
Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you wouldn't have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now.
And if you find her poor, Ithaka won't have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you'll have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

Translated by Edmund Keeley & Philip Sherrard


Σα βγεις στον πηγαιμό για την Ιθάκη,
να εύχεσαι νάναι μακρύς ο δρόμος,
γεμάτος περιπέτειες, γεμάτος γνώσεις.
Τους Λαιστρυγόνας και τους Κύκλωπας,
τον θυμωμένο Ποσειδώνα μη φοβάσαι,
τέτοια στον δρόμο σου ποτέ σου δεν θα βρεις,
αν μεν' η σκέψις σου υψηλή, αν εκλεκτή
συγκίνησις το πνεύμα και το σώμα σου αγγίζει.
Τους Λαιστρυγόνας και τους Κύκλωπας,
τον άγριο Ποσειδώνα δεν θα συναντήσεις,
αν δεν τους κουβανείς μες στην ψυχή σου,
αν η ψυχή σου δεν τους στήνει εμπρός σου.

Να εύχεσαι νάναι μακρύς ο δρόμος.
Πολλά τα καλοκαιρινά πρωϊά να είναι
που με τι ευχαρίστησι, με τι χαρά
θα μπαίνεις σε λιμένας πρωτοειδωμένους,
να σταματήσεις σ' εμπορεία Φοινικικά,
και τες καλές πραγμάτειες ν' αποκτήσεις,
σεντέφια και κοράλλια, κεχριμπάρια κ' έβενους,
και ηδονικά μυρωδικά κάθε λογής,
όσο μπορείς πιο άφθονα ηδονικά μυρωδικά,
σε πόλεις Αιγυπτιακές πολλές να πας,
να μάθεις και να μάθεις απ' τους σπουδασμένους.

Πάντα στον νου σου νάχεις την Ιθάκη.
Το φθάσιμον εκεί ειν' ο προορισμός σου.
Αλλά μη βιάζεις το ταξείδι διόλου.
Καλλίτερα χρόνια πολλά να διαρκέσει
και γέρος πια ν' αράξεις στο νησί,
πλούσιος με όσα κέρδισες στο δρόμο,
μη προσδοκώντας πλούτη να σε δώσει η Ιθάκη.

Η Ιθάκη σ'έδωσε τ' ωραίο ταξείδι.
Χωρίς αυτήν δεν θάβγαινες στον δρόμο.
Άλλα δεν έχει να σε δώσει πια.

Κι αν πτωχική την βρεις, η Ιθάκη δε σε γέλασε.
Έτσι σοφός που έγινες, με τόση πείρα,
ήδη θα το κατάλαβες οι Ιθάκες τι σημαίνουν.

-- Κωνσταντίνος Π. Καβάφης