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The Colossus of Maroussi

040315_colossus.jpgIn 1939, the controversial American writer Henry Miller decided to leave Paris and pay his friend Laurence Durell a visit in Corfu. Laurence had written to Miller many times inviting him to come to Corfu but it took the outbreak of World War II for Miller to get moving. In Miller's own words:

War is not just war: it is a universe which each one explores to a different end. Myself, I am terrified of it… As long as I have two legs to run with I shall run from it, and if necessary, crawl away on all fours… Even if what I see about me is Hell, it is Life just the same, and I prefer this life of hell to the gamble of war. I love life above truth, above honor, above friends, country, God or anything.

While in Greece Miller went on a pre-war romp through Athens, Crete. the Saronic islands and the Peleponnese. The Colosus of Maroussi is the book Miller wrote to chronicle his adventures in Greece. The Colossus that Miller immortalized in his book was George Katsimbalis, a Greek poet that he met, travelled with and was inspired by while in Greece. The book, now regarded as a modern travel classic, crackles with Miller's manic energy and feverish enthusiasm about the people, places and spirit of Greece at the time.

. . . to move from place to place in Greece is to become aware of the stirring fateful drama of the race as it circles from paradise to paradise. Each half is a stepping stone along a path market by the gods.

Miller's Colossus of Maroussi along with Laurence Durell's Prospero's Cell (about Corfu) and Reflections of a Marine Venus (about Rhodes), Gerald Durell's My family and Other Animals, Partrick Leigh Fermor's Roumeli and Mani books helped to shape the post-war image of Greece as an earthly paradise in western popular imagination that in turn fueled the tourism boom that has transformed the country since the sixties.

Posted on March 15, 2004 in Books | Permalink

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