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This mountainside village epitomizes much that has drawn people to the Mediterranean since time immemorial. The air is fresh and fragrant, the people warm-hearted, and in the distance, beyond citrus groves and the majestic ruins of a Gothic abbey, the azure sea glistens and shines. On a recent morning several British tourists walked up one of Bellapais's steeply sloping streets.

They stopped in front of a large whitewashed home with stained wooden shutters and a terrace on the roof. After gazing at it for a few minutes and consulting a book, they drifted away, passing a man carrying a video camera who was looking for the same house.

Above the door of this house is a small yellow plate bearing the inscription, ''Bitter Lemons: Lawrence Durrell Lived Here Durrell's high ranking among 20th-century writers, however, has made no impact in Bellapais, or for that matter anywhere else in Cyprus. His book ''Bitter Lemons of Cyprus'' is probably the most famous literary work ever written about this island, but it does not fit the politics of either Greek or Turkish Cypriots.

As a result, he is all but forgotten in one of the places he loved best. Durrell was 41 when he arrived in Bellapais, and he loved life here: ''Rising at four, I mean, and cooking my breakfast by rosy candlelight and writing a letter or two, to far-away Marie or my daughter, before clambering down the dark street with Frangos and his cattle, to watch the dawn breaking behind the gaunt spars of the abbey.

In Durrell's time, almost everyone in Bellapais was of Greek descent, which evidently suited him. He spoke Greek, was an unabashed Grecophile and had little contact with the island's Turkish minority. At the beginning of his time in Cyprus, Durrell supported himself by writing advertising copy for a wine company and teaching English to schoolgirls who, he wrote, fell madly in love with him. But that was ''before the vagaries of fortune and the demons of ill luck dragged Cyprus into the stock-market of world affairs.

The first half of ''Bitter Lemons of Cyprus'' is an impressionistic account of life in a wonderful place full of good fellowship and wine. The 's, however, was a period of rising tension and violence here. Armed groups emerged, proclaiming that there would be no peace until British colonial rule was overthrown and Cyprus was united with Greece.

Anxious to help calm these passions, Durrell accepted a post as press adviser to the British governor. He quickly became disgusted with Greek militants, viewing them not as freedom fighters but as ''whiskered lunatics'' intoxicated by ''the heady rhetoric of local demagogues and priests'' and the ''envenomed shrillness'' of Athens Radio.

Bellapais is in northern Cyprus, and so, as a result of the ''population exchange'' that followed the ethnic division of the island in , it is populated only by Turks today.

Not a soul here remains who remembers Durrell. At souvenir shops opposite the abbey, tourists often ask directions to his house, but there is not so much as a postcard of his doorway on sale, much less copies of his book. Probably he didn't want to live with us. That is not true, because by Durrell had long since settled in southern France, where he died in His house has had several owners since he departed, and whoever was inside this month wisely declined to answer the door when curious tourists came knocking.

One of the most memorable episodes in ''Bitter Lemons of Cyprus'' is Durrell's account of how a real estate dealer and ''terrestrial rogue'' called Sabri the Turk helped him find his house in Bellapais. Sabri spent days waiting for the right moment to approach the owner, shed theatrical tears of laughter when he heard the initial asking price, and finally closed the deal by promising that Durrell would pay in ''notes -- thick notes, as thick as honeycomb, as thick as salami.

Today Sabri Tahir is 74 years old and still has a reputation as a rogue. One of his legs was shot off by a business rival, but on a recent morning in Nicosia, he was willing to speak warmly about his old friend.

Tahir recalled. They started spreading rumors that Durrell had relations with his students and other negative things. They used such nasty words against him that he didn't want to stay in Cyprus.

In his book, however, Durrell makes no mention of personal troubles and says he left because he could not bear to see his beloved island consumed in a ''feast of unreason.

Today Greeks reject him because he accused them of degenerating into hatred and terror. Turks cannot embrace him because he wrote of ''the Greek nature of Cyprus'' and found ''a certain hollowness'' to Turkish claims.

Like so much in Cyprus, Durrell's stay here ended sadly and bitterly. Tahir said, ''but in the end many people didn't like him. View on timesmachine. TimesMachine is an exclusive benefit for home delivery and digital subscribers.

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Bitter Lemons of Cyprus

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Bitterness and Blossoms – Lawrence Durrell’s Cyprus

Semola Giuseppina. I have tried to review merely what I thought were the pertinent points to my presentation regarding the fascinating. Bitter Lemons, and have had to limit my purview accordingly. What is the significance of the appearance of these two characters at the beginning of his book? Caterina Cornaro reigned was the last queen of Cyprus.


Bellapais Journal; Bitter Memories of a Love Affair With Cyprus

Bitter Lemons is an autobiographical work by writer Lawrence Durrell , describing the three years — he spent on the island of Cyprus. The book was awarded the Duff Cooper Prize for , the second year the prize was awarded. Durrell moved to Cyprus in , following several years spent working for the British Council in Argentina and the Foreign Office in Yugoslavia. He had hoped that he would be able to purchase a house in an affordable location and write. Although Durrell must have experienced personal difficulties—his wife, Eve, was undergoing treatment for mental illness and had left him in charge of his young daughter, Sappho born [1] — the book does not mention these people or incidents, aside from a few oblique references to his daughter. In , he abandoned his home on the island and left Cyprus very rapidly for a very brief residence in the UK, quickly relocating to France for the remaining three decades of his life.


I recently introduced a passage from Reflections on a Marine Venus to a writing group and was highly embarrassed as they analysed its multiple deficiencies to oblivion. How could I not have seen them? The truth is I think I have always seen them and always forgiven them. Apparently 4, words a day was by no means exceptional for Durrell. And I still maintain that even Reflections , an account of his post-war period on Rhodes , contains some truly wonderful writing and superb characterisation. During a visit to Northern Cyprus earlier this month Maria and I were able to make pilgrimage to the central locus for what is unquestionably the finest of them, Bitter Lemons.

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