Ενώ αρχίζει με μια αρκετά καλή πλοκή, μετά από τις πρώτες 150 περίπου σελίδες αυτό το "ιστορικό μυθιστόρημα" των 700 σελίδων γίνεται περισσότερο βιβλί...moreΕνώ αρχίζει με μια αρκετά καλή πλοκή, μετά από τις πρώτες 150 περίπου σελίδες αυτό το "ιστορικό μυθιστόρημα" των 700 σελίδων γίνεται περισσότερο βιβλίο ιστορίας παρά μυθιστόρημα κ' η υπόθεση παίρνει δευτερεύοντα ρόλο. Ο συγγραφέας συγκεντρώνεται στην εξιστόρηση της πορείας της Ελλάδας από τα τέλη του 19ου αιώνα, μέσα από τους Βαλκανικούς πολέμους, τον Πρώτο Παγκόσμιο Πόλεμο, την Μικρασιατική Καταστροφή μέχρι κ' τον Δεύτερο Παγκόσμιο Πόλεμο. Οι χαρακτήρες γίνονται απλώς η δικαιλογία για την εξιστόρηση αυτών των γεγονότων. Τόσο η υπόθεση όσο κ' οι χαρακτήρες αναπτύσσονται μόνο όσο χρειάζεται για αυτό το σκοπό. Κ' παρόλο που η ιστορική αφήγηση είναι ενδιαφέρουσα με συναρπαστικές λεπτομέρειες - είναι εμφανές πως ο συγγραφέας έκανε μεγάλη έρευνα - δεν παύει από το να επισκιάζει εντελώς την υπόθεση. (less)
In 1878 Cyprus became a British protectorate under Ottoman suzerainty in exchange for Britain’s support of the Ottoman Empire against Russia. When in...moreIn 1878 Cyprus became a British protectorate under Ottoman suzerainty in exchange for Britain’s support of the Ottoman Empire against Russia. When in 1914 the Ottoman Empire entered the First World War on the side of the Central Powers, Britain annexed Cyprus. At the conclusion of the war, with the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne, Cyprus became officially a British colony.
The author, a historian, toured Cyprus in 1879, a few months after Britain took over the island. This book is an account of his travels around the island, accompanied by British officials, and provides a fascinating glimpse of what Cyprus was like at the time while reminding us that the British era was not one monolithic period.
This is by no means an objective account. The author is very much a product of Britain's colonial era, with a distinct sense of superiority and quick to pass judgement from that perspective. As far as he is concerned the British brought civilisation to the island.
Upon arriving, they encountered a backward society where practically no investment in infrastructure had been made, and quickly set up about correcting that. The author goes to great lengths to describe how bad the situation was and to praise the accomplishments of the British. He pointedly avoids attributing fault to the island's previous rulers but rather expresses contempt for the local population for not taking it upon themselves to invest in public works which would improve their lot.
In fact, criticisms come quite easily to him. He finds fault with people in every aspect of life from their behaviour, to their morals, down to their physical appearance.
"If lack of comeliness were crime, the Cadi of Nicosia would have much to do; if lack of comeliness were sin, not many of the women of Nicosia would be saved."
No-one is spared although he treats Turks more leniently than Greeks. But to his credit he also includes some criticism of his fellow countrymen - British soldiers in particular - for failing to appreciate the natural assets of the island.
Although I can see how one might take exception to such comments, which exemplify the colonial mindset, personally I found them rather entertaining. How can you not laugh at comments such as this:
“Here, we are in contact with both 'Greek' and 'Turk'. At present we are governing Cyprus under Ottoman Law. The Ottoman code contains articles which clash with what is called the 'moral sense'; not the moral sense of Orientals, whether 'Turk' or 'Greek', but with the moral sense of civilized Englishmen."
He does have an enormous appreciation for the island's natural beauty, its weather (praising the dry heat of Nicosia for its beneficial effect on health) and provides a wealth of interesting information on the history of the island and amusing vignettes of every day life. (less)