The Ionian Islands and Epirus: A Cultural History

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Scattered off the west coast of mainland Greece are the seven Ionian Islands, celebrated for their spectacular landscapes, olive groves and classical associations. Together with the mountainous mainland region of Epirus, the combined populations of Corfu, Paxos, Lefkas, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, and Kythira constitute less than a twentieth of the population of Greece, yet they have made a huge contribution to the culture of the country, before and since becoming part of the Greek state. The unsurpassed ...
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The Ionian Islands and Epirus

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Overview


Scattered off the west coast of mainland Greece are the seven Ionian Islands, celebrated for their spectacular landscapes, olive groves and classical associations. Together with the mountainous mainland region of Epirus, the combined populations of Corfu, Paxos, Lefkas, Ithaca, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, and Kythira constitute less than a twentieth of the population of Greece, yet they have made a huge contribution to the culture of the country, before and since becoming part of the Greek state. The unsurpassed beauty of the islands and of the Pindus Mountains has stimulated the imagination of countless writers and artists from Homer to Byron, Edward Lear and the Durrells, Louis de Berniéres and Nicholas Gage, as well as scores of nineteenth-century travellers.

Drawing a mosaic portrait of the Ionian Islands and special places of interest in Epirus, Corfu resident Jim Potts focuses on the landscapes, legends, traditions, and historical events that have appealed most strongly to the imaginations of writers, residents and travellers. Ranging from the mythical leap of Sappho and the mystery of Calypso's island to the impact of tourism on modern-day Corfu, this book reveals the extraordinary cultural legacy of this beautiful part of the world.

ODYSSEUS AND SAPPHO: the landscapes of the poets; Homer's Ithaca and Scheria; Sappho's leap; the identification of Dodona; classic ground; King Pyrrhus.

THE SEVEN ISLANDS: Strategic issues; Corfu v. Kefalonia; Byron and Casanova; Empress Elizabeth of Austria; Greek writers, Solomos, Laskaratos, Theotokis and Valaoritis.

TURKEY, VENICE, BRITAIN, GREECE: conflict and occupation; union and liberation; the Second World War and civil war; nationalism and identity; cultural differences.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"He examines perceptions and preconceived ideas (as well as their historical development up until the present day), Greek Nationalism as well as the chauvinism of foreigners. This presentation makes the book more interesting than a strictly historical narrative. The style is fluent, compact, enjoyable and understandable, and the author exhibits a subtle sense of humour. The author's love for the place and the people is obvious, but he also has an honest, open and evenly directed critical attitude." -- To Zagori Mas

"An important book that will kindle new research and thinking on the political and literary history of the region." --Times Literary Supplement

"If evidence is required that Greece can enchant, enthral and engage, then Briton Jim Potts' book is just that... This little gem of a book will provide the discerning traveller with something grossly lacking from other tourist guides: a real cultural history with which he or she can contextualise the wonderful experience that is the Ionian Islands and Epirus." --Athens News

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199754151
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/12/2010
  • Series: Landscapes of the Imagination Series
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jim Potts is the author of Corfu Blues, and co-editor of Swedish Reflections, from Beowulf to Bergman. He worked for The British Council for 35 years in many countries. He now splits his time between Corfu, Epirus and the UK.

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Table of Contents

Preface & Acknowledgements
A note on the spelling of names
Introduction
Chapter One
Classic Ground: Sappho's Leap ; Corfu/Scheria?; Homer's Ithaca
Othoni, Island of Calypso?; Kythira and Aphrodite; The Identification of Dodona; Archaeology and Politics;
Nekromanteion and Acheron; The Imaginative Lea; Further Theories

Chapter Two
Ionian History: Thucydides and Classical History; Normans, Venetians and
Napoleon; Corfu vs. Kefalonia; The British Protectorate; Attitudes before and after Unification.

Chapter Three
The Call of the Islands: Homecomings; Greek Language, Greek Values; The View from the Sea; Landscape and Perception; Images of Kythira; The Impact of Events; Images of Lefkas; Criticisms and Compensations; The Greek Orthodox Church; A Place of Contradictions; Perceptions of the British; Perceptions Through Time; Romantics and Lovers; Customs and Manners; Women in Greece.

Chapter Four
A Tour of the Islands: The Reality of Corfu; Kefalonia; Zakynthos and Zantiots; In Praise of Paxos.

Chapter Five
Foreign Rule and Occupation: The End of the British Protectorate; The Threat of Ali Pasha; Collaboration and Retribution; Provincial Despair, Provincial Pride; Unification and Communication.

Chapter Six
From Island to Mainland, Corfu to Epirus: Mainland vs. Islands; Maintaining the Environment; The
Epirot Mountain Landscape; The Vlachs of Metsovo and Pindus; The Mountains of Suli; Mountain Culture; Zagori; Local Legends.

Chapter Seven
New Perspectives: The Legacy of the Colonels; The End of Rural Poverty?; The Writing of Modern Greek History; The Heritage of Epirus; Ioannina After Ali; Nationalism, Truth and Reconciliation.

Bibliography & Further Reading
Index of Literary & Historical Names
Index of Places & Landmarks

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