Reading the World: Greece

Hopefully the weather is beautiful wherever you are today, but if not, why not journey to Greece with me for a reading holiday?  The following are five books which I would heartily recommend if you are interested in reading about Greece in all its glory.

1. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres 9780749397548
‘It is 1941 and Captain Antonio Corelli, a young Italian officer, is posted to the Greek island of Cephallonia as part of the occupying forces. At first he is ostracised by the locals, but as a conscien-tious but far from fanatical soldier, whose main aim is to have a peaceful war, he proves in time to be civilised, humorous – and a consumate musician. When the local doctor’s daughter’s letters to her fiance go unanswered, the working of the eternal triangle seems inevitable. But can this fragile love survive as a war of bestial savagery gets closer and the lines are drawn between invader and defender?’

2. The Iliad by Homer
‘One of the foremost achievements in Western literature, Homer’s “Iliad” tells the story of the darkest episode in the “Trojan War”. At its centre is Achilles, the greatest warrior-champion of the Greeks, and his refusal to fight after being humiliated by his leader Agamemnon. But when the Trojan Hector kills Achilles’ close friend Patroclus, he storms back into battle to take revenge – even though he knows this will ensure his own untimely death. Interwoven with this tragic sequence of events are powerfully moving descriptions of the ebb and flow of battle, of the domestic world inside Troy’s besieged city of Ilium, and of the conflicts between the Gods on Olympus as they argue over the fate of mortals.’

97802419514603. My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
‘Escaping the ills of the British climate, the Durrell family – acne-ridden Margo, gun-toting Leslie, bookworm Lawrence and budding naturalist Gerry, along with their long-suffering mother and Roger the dog – take off for the island of Corfu. But the Durrells find that, reluctantly, they must share their various villas with a menagerie of local fauna – among them scorpions, geckos, toads, bats and butterflies. Recounted with immense humour and charm “My Family and Other Animals” is a wonderful account of a rare, magical childhood. ‘

4. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
‘For Penelope, wife of Odysseus, maintaining a kingdom while her husband was off fighting the Trojan war was not a simple business. Already aggrieved that he had been lured away due to the shocking behaviour of her beautiful cousin Helen, Penelope must bring up her wayward son, face down scandalous rumours and keep over a hundred lustful, greedy and bloodthirsty suitors at bay…And then, when Odysseus finally returns and slaughters the murderous suitors, he brutally hangs Penelope’s twelve beloved maids. What were his motives? And what was Penelope really up to? Critically acclaimed when it was first published as part of Canongate’s “Myth” series, and following a very successful adaptation by the RSC, this new edition of “The Penelopiad” sees Margaret Atwood give Penelope a modern and witty voice to tell her side of the story, and set the record straight for good.’

5. The Greek Myths by Robert Graves 9780241952740
‘The Greek Myths is the definitive and comprehensive edition of Robert Graves’ classic imaginative and poetic retelling of the Greek myths. ‘Icarus disobeyed his father’s instructions and began soaring towards the sun, rejoiced by the lift of his great sweeping wings. Presently, when Daedalus looked over his shoulder, he could no longer see Icarus; but scattered feathers floated on the waves below…’ Including many of the greatest stories ever told – the labours of Hercules, the voyage of the Argonauts, Theseus and the minotaur, Midas and his golden touch, the Trojan War and Odysseus’ journey home – Robert Graves’ superb and comprehensive retelling of the Greek myths for a modern audience has been regarded for over fifty years as the definitive version. With a novelist’s skill and a poet’s eye, Graves draws on the entire canon of ancient literature, bringing together all the elements of every myth into one epic and unforgettable story. Ideal for the first time reader, it can be read as a single, continuous narrative, while full commentaries, with cross-references, interpretations, variants and explanations, as well as a comprehensive index of names, make it equally valuable as a work of scholarly reference for anyone seeking an authoritative and detailed account of the gods, heroes and extraordinary events that provide the bedrock of Western literature. The result is a classic among classics, a treasure trove of extraordinary tales and a masterful work of literature in its own right.’

 

Purchase from The Book Depository

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One thought on “Reading the World: Greece

  1. That’s a great list of suggestions! May I add “Gates of Fire” by Pressfield, “Zorba the Greek” by Kazantakis, “Antigone” by Sophocles, “Apology” by Plato, and “The Monogram” by Elytis.

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