About Denise Harvey (Publisher)
I am a small independent publisher, working from the island of Euboea, or Evia as it pronounced in Greek. The books I publish are primarily, but not exclusively, concerned with various manifestations of what is somewhat inadequately termed as modern Greek culture — its literature, history and music, its natural beauty and forms of life in both city and country, how Greek people see themselves and others, and how others see them, and the Orthodox Church that is the matrix within which much of what can be defined as modern Greek culture has been formed.
I first came to Greece from the West more than forty years ago, but it took me many years to learn that there was a Greece to pursue beyond the demarcations of history and dates and its physical beauty, a beauty still almost painfully vibrant where insensitive development and exploitation have not yet sullied it. I hope that some of the books listed on this site will be able to act as pointers for others who have sensed there is also something beyond that which immediately gives them delight and pleasure in the Greece they encounter today.
It is not at all that Greece has a monopoly of the 'other'; in all cultures where tradition is still living there is the 'other', waiting to be disclosed to those who have had intimations of it and who have then gone in search of it. I think, however, it is a little different for us westerners, for, as Cyril Connolly remarked, 'an affection for Greece seems to most of us now something we are born with', and it is this inheritance which can give us an unexpected way-in to what has been described as 'the other mind of Europe'.
Many have attempted to describe this 'other mind'. Below are extracts from three writers, some of whose books are available through this site, who each delineate a different aspect of it in their own inimitable way.
'I possess a very organic feeling which identifies humanity with the Greek natural world. I am bound to say that this feeling, which I imagine is shared by many, can sometimes be pretty burdensome. It is the antithesis of the condition of non-existence, the abolition of the ego, which one feels when faced with the magnificence of certain foreign landscapes. It would never cross my mind to apply the word "magnificent" to the mainly Greek landscapes I am thinking of. They constitute a world of beings: lines which are drawn and redrawn, bodies and features, the tragic silence of a face. Such things cannot be easily expressed . . . And yet, I do believe that the light in Greece has a humanizing effect. I sometimes think of Aeschylus, not as the Titan or the Cyclops he is sometimes represented as being, but as a man who feels and speaks very like ourselves, who accepts or opposes the natural elements as we all do. I think of the working-out of justice that he depicts, that alternation of Hubris with Ate, which may be, for all one knows, not just a moral law but a physical one as well.'
'Greece is not and never has been a lost paradise or a haven for tourists or an object of study, and those who approach her as if she were any of these will always fail to make any real contact with her. For to achieve this it is not enough to act in the manner of those who singly or in droves are to be seen pouring exhaustively and exhaustingly over the Greek landscape, guide-book or notebook in one hand, camera or tape-measure in the other, hurrying from site to site, from island to island, pausing here to observe the niceness of the view, there the shortcomings of the food or drainage, elsewhere how graced with or delightfully free from western virtues the natives are; for this is merely an avoidance of experience or understanding. He who would wish for these must have a more receptive and unhurried kind of temperament, one that is able to let things be what they are and to express their own natures rather than serve as the raw material for some purpose or other, be it one's own pleasure. He must have sought out not the past but the living face of Greece, which is not a doom but a destiny, a process rather in which past and present blend and fuse, in which nature and man and something more than man participate: a process, difficult, baffling, enigmatic, with its element of magic, its element of tragedy, working itself out in a landscape of bare hills and insatiable sea, in the miraculous cruelty of the summer sun, in the long generations of the lives of the Greek people.'
'Everywhere there are animals grazing and terraces or steps of earth, golden-yellow from the harvested grain. Scattered around on the nearby hills and over all the cultivated amphitheatre are an incredible number of churches. Everywhere you go in Greece, whether it be the hills and valleys or the three-quarters of the country that is washed by the sea, you encounter the fathomless depth of the Orthodox faith with its houses of God, the faith which has always served the people as the basis for their spiritual truth: that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of truth. Faith and language, farmer and fisherman or seaman, the two initial and enduring cells, bonded crosswise together like the lion, the angel, the calf and the eagle on the binding of the Four Gospels, or like the four primary elements, the â€˜much-sung fourâ€™: in life and in death, the inexhaustible springs of ever-flowing water of a people who are the guardians of one of the most marvellous religions and languages in the world.'