Richard Clark, A Notebook of the Greek Islands

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Opening Richard Clark’s The Greek Islands – A Notebook, reading the first pages, a list with common Greek words that a tourist should know, descriptions of some food, etc, I thought this was going to be some sort of a tourist guide, and I felt disappointed, even more because I would have to criticize the author for this guide’s title as “A Notebook”. Perhaps this stuff should be put to the end of the book, because it tends to give an idea that has nothing to do with the “Notebook” that the book really is, starting from page 23 under the header

“Occasional journeys through Crete, Corfu, Rhodes and other islands,”

and the relieving remark that

“This book is not a travel guide. It is more a notebook recounting experiences I have had in a country that I have loved for more than half a lifetime. …

“If my recollections seem random, it is my hope that they contain an element of surprise, like a walk around the streets of a Cretan mountain village that reveals something new at every turn. They are snapshots taken from the time I lived in Crete and the innumerable visits I have since made to the islands. It is an attempt to capture that feeling of serendipity that the Greek islands engender when you embark upon any voyage of discovery there. ”

This was the first pleasant surprise in Richard’s book. I love notebooks, especially the unorganised, when people share snapshots. This doesn’t mean that the author suffers a dissolved mind, on the contrary!

The author recalls memories of his visits in the Greek islands, and also cultural elements, even the persons of other philhellenes, as was Lawrence Durrell:

“We are in Kalami, so typical of the picturesque isolated Corfiot settlements on the north east coast. But Kalami’s association with the Durrell family has marked it out as a destination, due to its connection with Corfu’s adopted sons Lawrence and his brother Gerald. Both men did much to bring the delights of this small island to the attention of the world by writing of their time spent living here in the years immediately preceding the Second World War. Following the death of their father in 1928, Lawrence persuaded his mother to move the family away from the bleakness of England to Corfu in 1935…”

Culture, politics, history, customs and everyday life… so many aspects co-exist in the pages of this interesting book that is not for the regular tourists, only for people who wish to know Greece deeper.

I’d like to offer you a full chapter, some pages without any interventions of mine, to let you form a better idea of the author’s style. The chapter is called “A Traditional Existence” and describes a day in Crete of special value to the author.

Cf. Clark’s book at Amazon.

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