Posted by: koolwine | March 10, 2018

Cyprus: Bitter Lemons

Lawrence Durrell, a British ex-patriot looking for an idyllic island hideaway, finds himself in the midst of political upheaval. It’s the mid-1950s, and Greece is goading Cyprus’s Greek majority into rising up against its British colonizers in a bid for independence. Durrell takes a job as Press Adviser for the colonial government and gets an inside look at how a peaceful, sleepy community edges into violent rebellion.

Country Focus: Cyprus

Bitter Lemons
By Lawrence Durrell
Originally published by Faber & Faber Limited, London, 1957
My edition:  Axios Press, 2009.
271 pgs.

Genre: Memoir

About the author:  Best known for his series The Alexandria Quartet, which made it onto the Modern Library’s list of “100 Best English-Language Novels of the 20th Century,” Lawrence Durrell gathered story ideas from his world travels. His younger brother, Gerald Durrell, also became a famous author.

World Lit Up Rating:
(On a scale of 1-5, with 1 book = turned off and 5 books = lit up)

Lawrence Durrell


The whole street was ankle-deep in bottles. Across the road, on the periphery of the battlefield, the British Institute remained obstinately open, its director quietly watching from a balcony. From time to time a breathless student who had tired of throwing bottles or sprained an arm would slip into the library for a quiet spell of study as if nothing in the world were amiss. The crowds moved roaring up and down the streets, screaming for liberty like maddened bulls. An English spinster mounted rather precariously on a bicycle, however, rode straight through them; they parted, cheering, and when she dropped a parcel, a dozen members of Epsilon Alpha dived for the honor of picking it up and restoring it to her. “I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” said a newspaper correspondent, running for his life along the moat, pursued by the Girls’ Sixth. There were brilliant scenes rich in all the unrehearsed comedy of Latin life; as when the police experimenting with the new and exciting weapon they had been given-the gas shell-filled their own headquarters with tear-gas and had to evacuate it until the wind changed. “They don’t mean any harm,” said a Greek grocer dodging adroitly as a brickbat whizzed past him into a shop window, “It is just the people expressing themselves.” Then getting down under a counter, he added, “They are very polite people really, but they want self-determination.”

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