Monday, September 20, 2004

The English in Greece

The English in Greece--a sorry lot, by the way--seem to have a poor opinion of the Greek character. The English are torpid, unimaginative, lacking in resilience. They seem to think that the Greeks should be eternally grateful to them because they have a powerful fleet. The Englishman in Greece is a farce and an eye-sore: he isn't worth the dirt between a poor Greek's toes. For centuries the Greeks have had the cruelest enemy a people could have--the Turks. After centuries of enslavement they threw off the yoke and, had the big Powers not interfered , they probably would have driven the Turks into the ground and annihilated them. ... And yet the English, who would have disappeared from the face of the earth had they been subjected to the same treatment, pretend to look down on the Greeks

Everywhere you go in Greece the atmosphere is pregnant with heroic deeds. I am speaking of modern Greece, not ancient Greece. And the women, when you look into the history of this little country, were just as heroic as the men. In fact, I have even a greater respect for the Greek woman than for the Greek man. The Greek woman and the Greek Orthodox priest--they sustained the fighting spirit. For stubbornness, courage, recklessness, daring, there are no greater examples anywhere. No wonder Durrell wanted to fight with the Greeks. Who wouldn't prefer to fight beside a Bouboulina, for example, than with a gang of sickly, effeminate recruits from Oxford or Cambridge?

I made no English friends in Greece. I felt apologetic towards the Greeks whenever I was found in their company. The friends I made in Greece were Greek and I am proud of them, honored that they consider me a friend. I hope that the few Englishmen I knew in Greece will realize, when they read these lines, what I thought of their behavior. I hope they will consider me an enemy of their kind.

excerpt from: THE COLOSSUS OF MAROUSSI by Henry Miller


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