Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Lawrence Durrell's Paleocastrizza

A vintage postcard of Paleocastrizza on the northwest coast of Corfu.

I have a drawing done by Lawrence Durrell of Paleocastrizza in Corfu.  Today there would be beach umbrellas, tavernas and hotels in view, but my impression is that there was very little of all that when Durrell was on holiday there in 1965. The simplicity of his illustration compares to much older views of the place, like the vintage postcard above which dates from about 1910. Both capture the monastery sitting on the headland on the right.

A boat sails through the centre of Durrell's drawing.  It is more than a device for filling in the view and a way of suggesting the sea, the open waters of the Ionian, between the headlands.  When Durrell lived in Corfu in the late 1930s he would sail to Paleocastrizza from his home at Kalami on the east coast of the island.  The sailing boat is a memory of that pre-war idyll.  Durrell also had the notion that Paleocastrizza was the very spot where Odysseus, shipwrecked, washed ashore and naked, encountered and impressed the beautiful Nausicaa, nor was Durrell slow to identify himself with Odysseus. 

Lawrence Durrell's 1965 sketch of Paleocastrizza.