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The Colossus of Maroussi

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Book Overview

Like the ancient colossus that stood over the harbor of Rhodes, Henry Miller's The Colossus of Maroussi stands as a seminal classic in travel literature. It has preceded the footsteps of prominent... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

This book sent me to Greece for a year

Reading this book (along with a couple by Lawrence Durrell) in my early 20s was the impetus for my husband and me to quit our jobs, put our belongings in storage, sell our 2 cars, and take off with a couple of backpacks for Greece. Miller's ability to render the landscape and the people in the incomparable clarity of Greece's pure air is a rare talent. The Colossus of Maroussi is destined to be read for a long time, for it has a timeless power to transport the reader not only into the mind of the author but also into mind, heart, and soul of the Greek people. They could not have had a more loving and compassionate chronicler than Henry Miller.

Colossal writing as well

Henry Miller's reputation as a writer needs little verification from the likes of me. Nevertheless, it is a pleasure to be able to confirm the abilities of a truly great author. This example of his work is in some ways a peculiar one since it was written during a turning point in modern history, namely the Second World War, and was inevitably a turning point in Miller's own life as well.Henry Miller has not always had kind things to say about his native U. S. A. Here, in "The Colossus of Maroussi," he uses the American state as a kind of false backdrop for his discoveries in Greece. For Greece is the central geographical landscape on which he builds. Far from being a travelogue, however, it is a story of that ancient land and some of its people; Miller uses the fabric of Greek life to weave a story of mankind. His writing is distinctly dated today, but delightfully so. It is full of a poetic imagery that is almost entirely absent from the main stream of post-modern literature. As such, it is very complex writing which occasionally seems to be almost self-serving, as if the author was writing for no one but himself. In the main, it is a very accessible book that tries to reach out in pure, non-political terms to touch the essential core of what is man. At the present time, we could do well to review our own situation in life, and one way of doing so is by simply reviewing the literature on the subject. I recommend "The Colossus of Maroussi" as a place to start. Besides being the work of a truly formidable writer, it will take you to places you probably never dreamed existed.

A wonderfully written book!

As a Greek-American reading about Greece in Miller's account written in the 1930's, I found it to be very moving. It isn't simply a travel book about Greece, it's about Greece healing someone's soul!I absolutely love Miller's, "Tropic of Cancer," and was expecting the same style for Maroussi. However, I was mistaken. Miller doesn't include any of his notorious womanizing stories here. Instead, Miller writes about finding peace in contemplating Greece, modern and ancient. Again, his written prose is like reading poetry. There are some passages from this book that I had to "cut out" and keep for inspiration. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Henry Miller or Greece. I must also recommend Edmund Keeley's, "Inventing Paradise," which is something of a companion to Maroussi. In it, Keeley discusses Miller's Greek journey, which he took along with George Seferis, Lawrence Durrell, and other 20th century Greek poets, writers, and painters.

Barbarian sensitivity and good writing

This must be counted among the most peculiar books ever wrtitten about Greece by an Anglophone writer, but it is also among the most truthful and , at least in part, beautiful. Henry Miller states that he approaches Greece with little book learning (p. 89) and considers himself a savage. He is really no savage but we can perhaps call him a barbarian, in the sense that Walt Whitman and Robert Browning are barbarians. This is an important point that distinguishes him from his friend and fellow philhellene writer Lawrence Durrell, who also wrote a good deal about Greece but with another kind of imaginative but more refined sensitivity. The title of this book refers to someone called Katzimbalis, a magnificent raconteur who seems never to have published anything himself but did a lot to promote the work of some important modern Greek poets. (See Edmund Keeley's books for details of the great English-Greek-American literary friendships of the thirties and forties.) But the book is not really about its purported subject. It is about the changes taking place in Greece during the thirties and changes that took place in Miller as a result of his long stay in that country. He presents the experience as mind-altering. The structural pivots of the book are visits to Knossos, Phaestos, Mycenae and Epidaurus. Each of these visits becomes an occasion for meditations on the meaning of life and death, all delivered in the author's peculiarly masculine and barbarian style. But the best writing is found when he deals with the low-lifes of Syntagma Square in Athens, who offer him whores and beautiful young boys. How innocent life was in the thirties. Listing is an important part of Miller's style. He piles up great numbers of nouns or present participles or finite verbs. Sometimes the reader feels a bit overwhelmed by them. Miller lived in France for quite a while and brings to his work the post-adolescent dislike of American culture and society that used to infect every intelligent American a few generations ago. Everything American is bad...everything Greek is good. Miller is passionate about nearly everything and dosn't try to hide it. He doesn't write to give the reader pretty words but to give a vision of truth as he sees it. I think he sees it well, even though his vision is different from mine.

Miller's underappreciated masterpiece!

This is a small book with a big heart, an eloquent and enlightening memoir of Greece, where Henry Miller stayed briefly prior to leaving Europe for America at the begining of World War II. It is perhaps his best literary effort. For those who know Miller only through Tropic of Cancer or any of his other controversial books, pick this up today. If your local vendor doesn't have it, order it. Your eyes will be opened not only to the sun-drenched beauty of a country, but to the kind and loving genius of a man. You will see how truly visionary, human, and humane Miller was as he recounts his experiences and the people he befriended. His reflections are poetry here, his recollections sheer magic. You will be left with the knowledge of having experienced someone undergoing a spiritual transformation, and of being freed yourself. That is the book's gift to any reader. A country was never given a greater love letter. It is olives, bread and wine for the soul.
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