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Friday, 5 February 2016

Stories of the Ionian Islands ( Paxos, Zakynthos, Corfu, Lefkada, Kefalonia)


This is a project that's been in and out of the drawer for more than thirty years - a selection of Ionian Island stories in English translation. Needed - an interested publisher, and further encouragement!

The American’s Christmas, by Antonis Travlantonis (1867- 1943) A 1901 story about Paxos from the collection “Kroustallenia”, which evokes the island’s atmosphere and the people’s attitudes very tellingly. It’s a story about a Paxiot who goes to America, and returns as an old man; it’s also a perceptive study of the islanders’ expectations and reactions.

The Form and the Substance, by Grigoris Xenopoulos (1867-1951), a well-known and popular novelist, playwright and critic from Zakynthos. His works have been adapted for film and TV. This story is set after the Union of the Ionian Islands with Greece and encapsulates the differences between the ‘New Greeks’ and the Seven Islanders after the Union in 1864.

Nostimon Imar, by Grigoris Xenopoulos . A story about the Homeric theme of the homecoming, the ‘sweet day’ of the long-awaited return to an island (Zakynthos) of a man after a 14-year absence, only to find that everything has changed. He gradually starts to look at things with fresh eyes. The story is set in 1906.

The Pardon (or The Forgiveness, 1892), by Iakovos Polylas (1825- 1896), a Corfiot admirer of Solomos, involved with cultural, literary, linguistic and political affairs. He was also involved in the struggle for the union of the Ionian Islands with Greece. He translated several key works of Shakespeare. This is perhaps the best of three short stories he wrote.

Father Diabolo: A Story of an Icon of the Virgin Mary, Narrated by the Icon Itself, by Andreas Laskaratos (1811-1901), a Kefalonian satirical poet, prose-writer and dissident (excommunicated by the Orthodox Church), author of “The Mysteries of Kefalonia”. His work was much admired by the British at the time.

Honour and Money (I Timi kai To Chrima), by Konstantinos Theotokis (1872- 1923) A famous Corfiot novelist and short-story writer. This powerful novella, or long short story (100 pages), is set in Mandouki, Corfu, at the end of the nineteenth century. Theotokis was an aristocrat with strong socialist beliefs, much concerned with social problems. His work has often been filmed and televised. This story was made into a feature film, “The Price of Love”.

Life in the Village (Zoi tou Horiou) by Konstantinos Theotokis . One of the best short stories of village life by this influential Corfiot writer from Karoussades.

The Ball Gown (To Forema tou Chorou) by Irini Dendrinou (1879 - 1976), from Corfu.
The Mad Child,  (To Trelo Paidi), by Gerasimos D. Grigoris, from Lefkada  

I would also be tempted to include a story by Maria Strani-Potts, possibly "Panorea",

Some other excellent stories (already available in  English translation) - are mentioned in my book, TheIonian Islands and Epirus, A Cultural History (US OUP edition) - (see also UK edition):

Pistoma! ("Face Down") by Konstantinos Theotokis, translated by  Theodore Sampson

Short film version

A Small Mistake (or The Error), by Iakovos Polylas, translated by Theodore Sampson.

See discussion in my book.

About Irini Dendrinou

Greece: Lagarde, IMF, Pensions Reform

Pension system unsustainable at 10% of Greek GDP...

From Yahoo Finance

"According to Lagarde, the current pension system, which costs the equivalent of 10 percent of the Greek economy annually, is not sustainable and should undergo a profound overhaul. In Europe, the average pension ratio is 2.5 percent of gross domestic product, she noted".

From Protothema

YouTube Lagarde Interview (AlphaX News)

Greek Music in London, February 2016

From Miroloi, a poem by Frixos Tziovas:

"Play it slowly, play it with pain"

Thursday Feb 18, 2016: Kourelou at the SOAS Brunei Gallery

With guest: Yiannis Chaldoupis from Epirus, Greece. Free event.

Kourelou will be performing a patchwork of songs and covers as well as an exciting selection of songs that Y. Chaldoupis will bring fresh from the mountains of Epirus.
See Kourelou's latest interview by L. Aslanidou on 'Greek Diaspora':

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Dr. Faustus's Frivolous Demands

Nowadays he could go to Waitrose, Tesco or the local market... 


"Shall I make spirits fetch me what I please?
I'll have all corners of the new-found world
For pleasant fruits and princely delicates".


GOOD ANGEL. O, Faustus, lay that damned book aside,
And gaze not on it, lest it tempt thy soul,
And heap God's heavy wrath upon thy head!
Read, read the Scriptures:--that is blasphemy.

EVIL ANGEL. Go forward, Faustus, in that famous art
Wherein all Nature's treasure is contain'd:
Be thou on earth as Jove is in the sky,
Lord and commander of these elements.
[Exeunt Angels.]

FAUSTUS. How am I glutted with conceit of this!
Shall I make spirits fetch me what I please,
Resolve me of all ambiguities,
Perform what desperate enterprise I will?
I'll have them fly to India for gold,
Ransack the ocean for orient pearl,
And search all corners of the new-found world
For pleasant fruits and princely delicates...

The text of the play by Christopher Marlowe

UK; Life Satisfaction - Happiness and Wellbeing - Best at 70-74?

From The Guardian   

Data from the Office of National Statistics (pdf)

"The ONS asked people to rate their life satisfaction, the degree to which they feel what they do is worthwhile, their happiness and their anxiety. It found that those aged 40-59 were generally the least satisfied among the age groups, with a nadir reached among those aged 50-54.

Those with the highest levels of life satisfaction were aged 70-74, followed closely by 65-69-year-olds and 16-19-year-olds. People aged 75-79 also reported high levels of satisfaction with life, although this declined with age.

Happiness followed a similar pattern, with respondents aged 40-59 generally reporting low levels of happiness, and 50-54-year-olds the least happy of all. Those aged 65-74 were the happiest and people aged 16 to 19 also reported good levels of happiness. Over the age of 75, happiness levels declined, but even those aged over 90 were happier than people in middle age". The Guardian.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Before the Wall Came Down: Shakespeare's Sonnets - "Art made tongue-tied by authority" - 400 Years After His Death - Sonnet 66 in Czech, Zdeněk Hron

Shakespeare's plays and poems have been of enduring and profound significance in all countries where art has been "tongue-tied by authority". Shakespeare lives! He died on 23 April, 1616.

In Czech translation by my old friend Zdeněk Hron :

An earlier version of Sonnet 66 (1978):

Zdeněk Hron - Životopis (biographical note)

Po maturitě (1961) na Vojenské škole Jana Žižky v Moravské Třebové studoval 1961–67 angličtinu a češtinu na Filozofické fakultě Univerzity Karlovy. V letech 1968–87 vyučoval na Jazykové škole v Praze, od 1987 se věnoval překladatelské činnosti ve svobodném povolání. Od 1999 je kulturním atašé velvyslanectví České republiky v Londýně. Překládá z angličtiny poezii, dramatická díla i prózu. Několik básnických antologií rovněž sestavil (Černý majestát. Poezie černé Ameriky 20. století, 1978; Ostrovy plovoucí k severu, 1990; Ve znaku bodlák. Antologie současné skotské poezie, 1995). Pro Československou a Českou televizi přeložil dialogy a podtitulky k řadě filmů a seriálů.

The Tempest in Prague, March 1989.

"The Sonnet exchanges are at the heart of an international exchange by contemporary writers and artists. In February 2016 Bloomsbury Publishing will be bring out On Shakespeare's Sonnets: A Poets' Celebration - commissioned by Bloomsbury Publishing, the Royal Society of Literarture and King's College. Contributing poets include: Andrew Motion, Carol Ann Duffy, Gillian Clarke, Paul Muldoon, Ruth Padel, Simon Armitage, Roger McGough and Jo Shapcott."