Linda Lappin On Books and Islands


Lappin ponders her idea of Greece through the writings of Lawrence Durrell @ Del Sol Review.

Safely ensconced in my suite as the Minoan Lines cruiser rolls and rocks gently beneath me, I look up from my book and gaze out through the porthole at a calm, cobalt sea. For over thirty years, this passage from Italy through the island-glutted channel of the Ionian sea, has signaled the high point of the year: my escape, reward, renewal. On my first trip years ago I lay down to sleep on a salt-stiffened beach towel spread out on the clammy deck, waking with the taste of rust on my lips, greeting island after island with a shout of joy as the wind blew my hair into knots. I travel in greater comfort now but the visceral enchantment I feel as I watch those islands rise out of the mist hasn’t lessened with time.

I pick up my book again and read: Somewhere between Calabria and Corfu, the blue really begins - penned by Lawrence Durrell in his memoir Prospero’s Cell, describing the very voyage I am making now, which he made in 1935. After this first delightful, sensuous shock, I pause as if to gasp for air before plunging deep again as the text continues: You are aware of islands coming out of the darkness to meet you. The prose tastes so rich I have to savour it in small doses.

How perfectly he describes the excitement I feel as the ship ploughs on towards shores, some of which have now become to me known entities, others still blank spots on a map, where perhaps I will never set foot. Reading Durrell en route to Greece doubly enhances my enjoyment of the journey I am sharing with him across time, while igniting my own yearning to find words to encapsulate my own experience. Yet Durrell’s words in this and in his other many works about Greece have lent their color and timbre to my own vision of the country. Through writing we recreate our inner worlds by means of language; through reading we merge with the inner worlds of others, who fertilize our own in a sort of parallel universe where myriad lives touch, drift apart, make contact again, producing new combinations, influences; atmospheres that are contagious, destinations that don’t exist in real life.
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