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The Ionian Islands and Epirus

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 Bèrnieres 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. 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.

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.

Reviews:

'This is an important book that will kindle new research and thinking on the political and literary history of the region.' - Times Literary Supplement

'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

'An absolute charmer . . . This is writing of a very high calibre. A joy and a treasure and a valuable long-lasting addition to the literature of our region.' - Island

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