The Pursuit of Greece

An Anthology selected and with an introduction
by Philip Sherrard,
and with Photographs
by Dimitri

Edited by Philip Sherrard

Travellers, poets, artists, even scholars, still go to Greece in search of something they feel that no other land quite offers them. Partly no doubt this is a by-product of the enormous prestige the world of ancient Greece acquired subsequent to the Renaissance; partly, too, it is due to the sheer physical beauty with which Greece presents one at practically every step. Even though the stereotype of classical Greece has now worn thin, and island after island, seashore village after seashore village, are overrun by the life-starved fugitives from the industrial wildernesses of northern Europe, loosed upon them week-in week-out by the seemingly endless succession of package-tours and charter-flights, the spell and the compulsion survive.

For Philip Sherrard the enigma of Greece was a lifelong preoccupation. In this anthology, one of his earlier publications, he explores its various aspects through the writings of those who over the centuries have found in Greece not simply an object of study or a romantic haven, but a challenge, an incitement and a reciprocity that has stirred the wellsprings of both heart and imagination. To give an inner coherence to this exploration the passages chosen are presented in the form of an itinerary that includes all the major areas of Greece, the Aegean Islands and Crete. The remarkably evocative photographs by Dimitri complement this itinerary, providing the visual component of an image which cannot but enrich the experience of all who, for whatever reasons, have set out on this journey of self-discovery that Greece offers them.

'Balance — that is a difficult quality in speaking of a country one cares about, and I don't mean the old tag about nothing too much; for Greece everything is not enough. I mean the balance in accepting the extremes . . . And balance, the whole Greece, is what Mr Sherrard is after in this splendid anthology. Seferis and Sikelianos; Kevin Andrews' description of climbing Olympus; Patrick Leigh Fermor's passage on light; Flaubert fording the Alpheus; Robert Curzon enjoying an Athonite hermit's hospitality; poets, historians, travellers ironic, travellers intoxicated by their own emotions: a hundred scenes, a hundred reactions. . . . I am sometimes asked to recommend books about Greece. I should advise, then, reading The Pursuit of Greece not before but after a first visit — or during a second, when the noble or the lively writing will, as it were, bring out the scent of the country.'

Dilys Powell in The Sunday Times.

The Pursuit of Greece is a reprint of the 1964 London (John Murray) edition.

  • 292 pages, 22.5 x 15.0 cm, 32 black and white plates, sewn pages, 1987

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