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Cyprus’ archaeology moulds a passion for pottery March 25, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Archaeology Cyprus, Books Life.
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Brimbank, Australia, Deputy Mayor Dr Kathryn Eriksson has just had her third book published and has plans for two more.

A passion for archaeology since she was a young girl has led Brimbank’s Deputy Mayor, Dr Kathryn Eriksson, to have three books published, with plans for another two in the next two years. Dr Eriksson’s latest work is on the archaeology and history of ancient Cyprus.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “I’d always been interested in archaeology. I was the little girl in class always saying I wanted to be an archaeologist and the other kids would ask, ‘What’s that?’”

Dr Eriksson, whose work is internationally renowned, has been working on the book for five years on behalf of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna.

Titled The Creative Independence of Late Bronze Age Cyprus, it is said to be the most comprehensive and definitive account of this period of ancient Cyprus (1580 to 1180 BC) ever published. It is volume 10 of a 14-book series. Dr Eriksson is a specialist in the area of ancient Cypriot ceramics of the Bronze Age.

In her earlier book, Red Lustrous Wares, she was able to establish that this form of pottery originated in Cyprus and not in Syria. The recent book adds to the previous one with a comprehensive analysis of another pottery form, White Slip Ware.


Runciman Lecture at King’s College, London February 2, 2008

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life, Hellenic Light Europe.
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“Philhellenic Images as Pictorial and Political Statements” is the title of the 17th Runciman Lecture next Tuesday at King’s College, London.

Fani-Maria Tsigakou will argue that such images shed light not only on 19th-century artistic trends but also on ideological concepts. Tsigakou is the curator of the Department of Paintings, Prints and Drawings at the original Benaki Museum in Athens. She did her doctoral dissertation for London University on Edward Lear, more than 1,000 of whose drawings are in the collection of the Gennadius Library in Athens.

The British Embassy in Athens and the British School of Archaeology also have original drawings by Lear. Lear’s Greek works are a “complete record of the Greek landscape in the mid-19th century,” Tsigakou notes in her book “Athens through the Eyes of Foreign Artists-Travelers, 16th-19th Centuries” which came out recently in a bilingual Greek-English edition from Oistros Technis publishers. During her postgraduate studies, Tsigakou met Sir Steven Runciman, who wrote the introduction to her book “The Rediscovery of Greece” published by Thames and Hudson in 1981, which has been translated into Greek, French, German, Italian and Spanish.

Lord Byron and the John Murray Archive November 12, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life, Books Life Greek.
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lord_byron_notebook.jpg  A page from Lord Byron’s notebook from his first visit to Greece in 1809. In his speech on Wednesday Pispinis underlined the decisive role that Lord Byron played in shaping European opinion of post-revolutionary Greece.

A very special evening took place at the Greek Embassy in London on Wednesday, at a private viewing of the “Lord Byron and the John Murray Archive” collection. Jointly organized by Greek Ambassador Vassilis Pispinis and Lady Balfour of Burleigh, trustee of the National Library of Scotland and Chairman of the Campaign for the John Murray Archive, the event featured manuscripts written by the hand of, or related to Lord Byron.

The documents are part of the John Murray Archive which has now been acquired by the National Library of Scotland. In his address, Ambassador Pispinis noted: “Lord Byron’s passionate association with Greece is one of the pivotal links which bring together our two countries. The treasures on show this evening bear witness to the poet’s love for Greece, its culture, its language and, especially, its people. These documents also attest to the fact that Byron established a pattern in the relationship between Greece and Britain, which has endured, in peace and war. Through his personality, his genuine interest and his poetry, he also shaped the way his continental contemporaries saw Greece. Before Byron, Europeans looked at Greece almost uniquely from a classical perspective, as an object of antiquity. Byron radically changed that perception. Through his verses he wrote while in Greece, he revealed to the world a picture of a country full of passion and color, still very much alive, a country peopled by contemporary living beings deserving better than the fate which was theirs.”

The private viewing included a notebook belonging to Lord Byron with words and phrases written in Greek, his last diary, “Cephalonia Journal, 1823-1824” as well as an excerpt from his unfinished poem, “Aristomenes, Canto First.”

Greece participates at the Frankfurt Book Fair October 11, 2007

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Greek publishers participate at the Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest in the world, which opened yesterday.

Greece is present at the Frankfurt Book Fair, which started yesterday. The Panhellenic Federation of Publishers and Booksellers (POEB) is representing the Greek book trade with a collective stand, while 13 Greek publishers have their own stands. Speaking to the press last week in Athens, the new administration of POEB explained their policy for promoting Greek books more effectively at book fairs. Instead of simply asking publishers for “books for Frankfurt,” as in the past, POEB’s librarians have made a selection of books that are likely to interest foreign rights buyers. In the future, they will take only books published in the previous 12 months.

The National Book Center of Greece (EKEBI) is using part of the POEB stand at Frankfurt to promote the Thessaloniki Book Fair by actively schmoozing with makers and shakers in the book world.

One strong card that Greek publishers can now play when selling foreign rights is the news that the Culture Ministry’s long moribund program for supporting translations of Greek books has at last been reactivated.

Frankfurt Book Fair, a subsidiary of the German Publishers & Book Sellers’ Association is the world’s largest book fair, attracting more than 7,000 exhibitors from over 100 countries.

Prize-winning British author James Meek visits Greece October 2, 2007

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Prize-winning British author James Meek author of compelling novel ‘The People’s Act of Love’ visits Greece > James Meek’s ‘The People’s Act of Love’ (Canongate, 2005) was translated into Greek by Maria Zachariadou for Ellinika Grammata.

Siberia during the Russian Revolution is the setting for James Meek’s latest novel, “The People’s Act of Love,” winner of the 2006 Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award and the 2006 Ondaatje Prize.

In that harsh, remote landscape, a singular cast plays out the extremes of human emotion and belief. A Jewish lieutenant in a Czech legion stranded by the fortunes of war, a sect of Christians who seek purity through castration, a woman who flouts convention in the pursuit of love, and a man who claims to have escaped both a prison camp and a would-be cannibal, encounter what the author calls “life’s absolute tests.”

Meek, author of three novels and two collections of short stories, also worked as a reporter for 20 years, winning awards for his articles on places such as Guantanamo Bay and Iraq. He contributes to the Guardian, the London Review of Books and Granta.

Meek is currently visiting Greece as the guest of the British Council and his Greek publishers Ellinika Grammata.

Meet James Meek today at the British Council in Thessaloniki, 9 Ethnikis Amynas Street, at 7.30p.m., and tomorrow in Athens, 17 Kolonaki Square, Kolonaki, at 8 p. m.

Noah uncovered in ancient Greek art September 30, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life, Culture History Mythology.
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Solving Light Books announced today the publication to the Web of 37 images of Noah uncovered in ancient Greek art.

The surprising Web presentation includes commentary by Robert Bowie Johnson, Jr., author of “The Parthenon Code: Mankind’s History in Marble” and most recently, “Noah in Ancient Greek Art.”

According to Johnson, ancient Greek artists and poets called Noah “Nereus”, meaning the “Wet One”, and also referred to him as the “Salt Sea Old Man.” Greek artists depicted Noah/Nereus in black-figure vase-scenes, red-figure vase-scenes, and in sculpture.

The Web presentation shows that Greek artists depicted Noah/Nereus being threatened and pushed out of the way by the Greek hero and rebel, Herakles. Artists also portrayed Herakles as grabbing Noah/Nereus from behind, figuratively bringing him, and his rule, to a halt. Ancient vase-painters and sculptors also put Noah/Nereus into scenes as a solemn and dejected witness to key events heralding the takeover of Zeus-religion, including the defeat of his Yahweh-believing sons, and the birth of the serpent-friendly Athena.

“The prevailing notion in academic circles that Greek vase-artists and sculptors spent their lives depicting imaginary or “mythical” events is absurd on its face. The Greek “gods” look exactly like people, because that’s who they were, our ancestors,” Mr. Johnson said. “An enormous amount of information about mankind’s true origins hides in plain sight in the art of ancient Greece. These many images of the Greek version of Noah, now made available to the public on the Web, are just a small part of it,” he added.

Related Links > http://www.solvinglight.com/features/37NoahsPartI.htm

Cephalonia a treasured island September 9, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Books Life, Books Life Greek.
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Louis de Bernières on how a change of holiday destination led to the writing of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

For much of my adult life my ideal holiday was to load up my Morris Traveller with camping equipment and drive around France. I have some French both in my blood and in my temperament, and it’s the country I love best. I usually kept off the péage and stuck to the N roads, because then you can stop to eat in village restaurants, and for sight seeing and walking. “Le camping sauvage” is illegal in France, but in fact nobody really gives a damn, as long as you don’t make a mess, don’t stay too long, and ask permission if anyone is about. France is much bigger than Britain, and much less densely populated, so it’s easier to disappear into the woods and fields, and put up a tent. If the weather gets too appalling, there are plenty of little hotels where one can seek asylum. One of the nicest things to do is have a destination, but to get there and back slowly, so that you have a couple of days al fresco after having spent 10 days in a place like St Remy de Provence, or Arcachon. Back in the 80s my girlfriend Caroline put up with these holidays for a while, and I like to delude myself that she enjoyed them, but there came a time when she said “Please can we do something other than drive around France in the Morris?” and I said “OK, you come up with something.”

On the bus from the airport in Cephalonia, the tour guide kept mentioning the earthquake in 1953. It didn’t take long to realise that the islanders are still obsessed with that dreadful catastrophe that destroyed all the architecture that they had inherited from the Venetians. By this time I felt that I had come to the end of my Latin American period, because the next volume would have been about a dictator, but lately all the republics, with the exception of Cuba, had suddenly democratised and made the project anachronistically pointless.

It was savagely hot in Cephalonia. Caroline sat with a wet towel wrapped around her head, and I got sunstroke as usual. I quite enjoy the hot and cold shivers, but not the diarrhoea and the stinging. We had hired a motorcycle, and I spent a lot of time riding about just admiring the scenery. It was back then that I realised that Greek communists don’t love their country, because they cover even the beauty spots with their hideous red graffiti. I passed a pine marten, squashed in the road, and that gave me the character of Psipsina. I watched a lovely young woman waiting in the cafe next door to ours in the main square of Argostoli, and she became Pelagia. There was a man who herded his goats past our valley every evening, and he became Alekos. The most important thing was hearing that the Italians had invaded during the war, and that in the main they had got on reasonably well with the locals. They had no theories about racial superiority, and the worst thing said about them was that they were chicken thieves. They behaved exactly according to stereotype, which of course means singing, flirting, footballing, and playing guitars, mandolins and accordions. My father was in the Italian campaign, and has the same kind of memories. Cephalonia was already very Italianate anyway; the local music consisting of cantades whose tunes are Italian, but whose words are Greek. The Germans, by contrast, were arbitrary and brutal, and liked to march about to brass bands. The junk shops of Greece are still full of their flugelhorns and tubas. There was only one romance between a German and a Greek on Cephalonia, and she had to leave after the war, but there were plenty of Italian/Greek ones. Since there has always been a literature of romance “across the barricades”, it seemed a good idea to add to it.

When I got home I wrote to the Historical and Cultural Museum of Argostoli, which was run by a woman called Helen Cosmetatos. She was so formidable that during the war even the Germans were frightened of her. She sent me a long reading list, and the period of research began. I had had Greek neighbours before I moved to Earlsfield, so I used to pop over to Raynes Park to ask them important things such as “How do you say ‘fuck off’ in Greek?” Once I had a truly extraordinary stroke of luck when someone turned up at their house who had been in the earthquake.

I immersed myself in everything Greek and Italian. I pillaged Charing Cross Road for old history books and memoirs, I made Greek food, listened to the music, read the writers. I read all of Kazantzakis, for example, and discovered to my amazement that the Greeks had by far the best modern poets and composers. I am still completely in love with them. I bought a superb mandolin in Portugal, and learned to play the things that Corelli would have played. I used to gloat about how much Corelli would have loved that mandolin.

The book was a pleasure to write, and I wrote it at exactly the right time in my life. It has a young man’s energy, but the balance of someone on the cusp of middle age. I had recently been able to give up teaching, and was exhilarated by that supreme and longed-for liberation. I had yet to experience any weariness with the literary world, and was full of the wonder of being a published author. Caroline was a complete sweetheart and everything was still going well with us. The book was framed around some hellish events, but when I look at it now it seems to glow with the kind of light that overpowered me when I first went to Cephalonia. It isn’t my masterpiece, because that’s what the subsequent novel Birds Without Wings is, but it is the book that entirely reconfigured my life. People often irritate me by saying “I loved your book”, as if I had never written any other, and they never can remember the title correctly. My favourite is Captain Gorilla’s Mandarin.