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Papadiamantes was a prominent 19th century Greek prose writer who grew up on the island of Skiathos. Papadiamantes is known for his character portrayal, and his careful observation of everyday life including descriptions of folk traditions and the natural surrounds, much in the fashion of England's Thomas Hardy. In this work, he portrays a traditional island community, with every possible character type from sweet young girl to rowdy young boy, good parents and heartless parents, stocky fisherman and shepherds, and prosperous landowners.
This award-winning novel takes the form short letters looking for advice to Mrs. Mina, short news stories, and advertisements. It highlights the inevitable friction caused past values coming into conflict with present realities. Set in the 1960s, a time of cultural transformation around the world, Greece is undergoing a political change from monarchy to republic by way of dictatorship. Fictional documents represent the lovelorn looking for advice, emigration applicants making their case to the government, gossip columnists, celebrities, and radio personalities.
There are many excellent novels to read in the Kedros Modern Greek Writers series, which published primarily in the 1990s. Fool's Gold is set at the time of the dictatorship of the "Colonels," who took over the country in a coup in April 21, 1967. The main character joins an underground resistance through which she takes part in a student uprising at Athens Polytechnic that results in disaster and bloodshed.
Author of among other books, The Alexandria Quartet, Lawrence Durrell wrote this travelogue and traveler's companion in the 1970s. While in some respects Durrell's perspective will be out of date, his excellent writing, and the breadth of his travels make this book well worth dipping into. Durrell writes that he was inspired by Ernle Bradford's Companion Guide to the Greek Islands (1963) and J.C. Lawson's Modern Greek Folklore and Ancient Greek Religion (1920). Durrell seeks to answer two questions for the traveler to Greece, "What would you have been glad to know when you were on the spot? What would you feel sorry to have missed while you were there.” Many photographs and an introductory map.
Read this book before or after your travels. It is an oversized 651 pages providing a thematic approach to the history and culture of Ancient Greece. The layout, extensive indexing, and detailed table of contents make it amenable to selecting a section of interest.
An illustrated guide to every aspect of ancient Greek culture from disability, chronic illness, and old age to architecture to the different aspects of work including agriculture and manufacturing, the arts, the public sphere, and language and literature. For example, from Caring for the Elderly: "The Greeks regarded the care of the elderly, which they called geroboskia, as a sacred duty, the responsibility for which rested exclusively with the offspring. Greek law laid down severe penalties for those who omitted to discharge their obligations. In Delphi, for instance, anyone who failed to look after his parents was liable to be put in irons and thrown into prison....There were no public facilities for the aged--the very idea of an old people's home would have been utterly alien to the Greeks" (66).
Written by a long time professor of classics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, this book is an excellent book to have nearby as you travel. Divided into categories such as Athletics, Mathematics, Greeks and Barbarians, Athens, Women, and many more, it is filled with quotations from the ancients, pieces of information, snippets from ancient literature and history. Intended to amuse and inspire.
One can't read Homer without realizing how the ancient epics have left their mark on all aspects of our present day culture and imagination. The authors of this book set out to make the connection between Greek culture and the culture of the 21st century.