📚 “Bitter Lemons” is a fascinating autobiography by Lawrence Durrell that chronicles his life in Bellapais, Cyprus, during the “Enosis” movement. He quickly adapted to the Cypriot lifestyle and became immersed in the community. However, the escalation of conflict made it dangerous for him to stay. His legacy lives on through his writings and the preserved locations that inspired them.
What is Lawrence Durrell’s “Bitter Lemons” about?
“Bitter Lemons” is Lawrence Durrell’s 1957 autobiography that chronicles his life and experiences in Bellapais, Cyprus. The book offers historical flashbacks and recounts the people he befriended, as well as the developments surrounding the “Enosis” movement – the Greek Cypriots’ desire for unification with Greece and freedom from British rule. The title reflects the bitter aftertaste of his time in Kyrenia and Bellapais.
The Origins of the Author
Lawrence Durrell was born in India in 1912 to British parents. The oldest of four children, his father worked as an engineer for the Indian Railways. Despite spending only short periods in England, he longed for warmer climates, spending much of his life in various Mediterranean locations, including the Greek island of Corfu.
Durrell was passionate about writing and dreamt of becoming a writer. He not only honed his own craft but also encouraged his younger brother and naturalist Gerald Durrell to write. In 1956, Gerald published the book “My Family And Other Animals,” which became a well-known literary work among Britons.
Lawrence Durrell’s Bohemian Life
Lawrence Durrell’s life was defined by a love for writing, bohemian living, and a series of romantic relationships. He married for the first time at age 20 in Paris, and soon after, he had a daughter. In 1953, at the age of 41, he settled in Cyprus.
Embracing the Cypriot Lifestyle
At the time, many Greek Cypriots lived in Kyrenia, and Durrell was warmly welcomed due to his fluency in the language and his ability to adapt to their way of life. He found work as an English teacher and purchased a house in Bellapais for only £300. This house can still be visited today.
The Escalation of Conflict in Cyprus
In 1955, the conflict between the British and Cypriot EOKA guerrilla organization erupted, resulting in approximately 500 deaths among Britons, Greeks, and Turks. Due to his work with the British government, the Greek people turned their back on Durrell, making it increasingly dangerous for him to stay on the island. In 1956, he hastily left Bellapais and his house, never to return.
Bitter Lemons: A Literary Breakthrough
Durrell wrote his classic work and literary breakthrough, “Bitter Lemons,” in 1957. The autobiography offers historical flashbacks from his time living in Bellapais, Cyprus, and chronicles his personal experiences on the island. With a mix of humor and seriousness, he recounts the people he befriended and the developments surrounding the “Enosis” movement – the Greek Cypriots’ desire for unification with Greece and freedom from British rule.
The title of the book reflects the bitter aftertaste of his experience in Kyrenia and Bellapais. “Bitter Lemons” can be found in most bookstores and is available online.
Visiting Lawrence Durrell’s Legacy
Lawrence Durrell passed away in 1990 at his home in southern France. However, his legacy lives on through his writings and the preserved locations that inspired them. His house in Bellapais remains open for visitors, offering a glimpse into the life of this fascinating author and his time in Cyprus.
Lawrence Durrell’s life in Cyprus offers several important lessons regarding adapting to new cultures, the impact of political conflict, and preserving cultural heritage.
Firstly, Durrell’s ability to adapt to the Cypriot lifestyle and language serves as a reminder of the importance of embracing new cultures. His fluency in the language and willingness to learn from the community allowed him to form meaningful connections and gain a deeper understanding of the local people and their way of life.
Secondly, the escalation of conflict in Cyprus highlights the devastating impact of political conflict on communities and individuals. Durrell’s experience of being forced to leave his home and the community he had grown to love due to the violence and political tensions is a reminder of the importance of promoting peaceful resolution to conflicts.
Finally, Durrell’s legacy and the preservation of his home in Bellapais emphasizes the importance of preserving cultural heritage and the stories of those who have come before us. By visiting and learning from these preserved locations, we can gain a deeper understanding of history and the people who shaped it.