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Reflections on a Marine Venus: A Companion to the Landscape of Rhodes

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  226 ratings  ·  27 reviews
In his hugely popular Prospero's Cell, Lawrence Durrell brought Corfu to life, attracting tens of thousands of visitors to the island. With Reflections on a Marine Venus, he turns to Rhodes: ranging over its past and present, touching with wit and insights on the history and myth which the landscape embodies, and presenting some real and some imagined. With the same wit, t ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published July 3rd 2000 by Faber Faber (first published December 31st 1943)
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3.91  · 
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 ·  226 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Curt Hopkins Hopkins
Nov 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: greece, travel
One-third poetry, one-third character, and one-third history. And short, under 200 pages. It is a perfect book and I've now read it half a dozen times. Preface it with "Prospero's Cell" (about Corfu) and follow it with "Bitter Lemons" (about Cyprus), then read the Alexandria Quartet. He's one of the great writers of English literature and mercifully so out of favor and fashion that no academic and no critic can butcher him and reduce him. He's a writer for readers. There's a joy to reading Durre ...more
Sep 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
It is five star quality, an evocation of a past. The opening pages must be some of the best opening pages ever written.
The army boat, off course because of a running storm; Gideon and his little dog Homer; the landing, not in Cyprus or Beirut confidently prophesised by Gideon, but in Rhodes where they are scheduled to arrive. Later, Hoyle; met over the trunks and suitcases that belong to him; objects cursed for being in the way and by extension Hoyle is seen as an object in the way. The reality
Jan 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book recounts the author's experiences as a press officer for the British government on the island of Rhodes shortly after World War II. The tone is humorous, and there are cheerful portrayals of a motley group of friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. The island is lovingly portrayed in sometimes dreamy sentences. Durrell considered himself an "islomane" - a lover of islands, and his appreciation for the natural beauty, historic treasures, and simple people of the region is evident. There ...more
Eddie Clarke
Jun 09, 2013 rated it really liked it
The Alexandrian Quartet was easily my favourite book as a teenager; rereading it many years later I was disappointingly repelled by its ornate prose and languorous atmosphere, so I approached this book with some trepidation. Have to say, I enjoyed it very much. Durrell's beautiful poetic language is deployed with disciplined discretion. Writing about his relatively short stay on the island of Rhodes in the immediate aftermath of WWII, he subtly uses the shock of recovery from the cataclysm of wa ...more
Anthony Peter
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Okay, so this armchair traveller gives Lawrence Durrell 5 stars.

There are two sides to this response, I think. One is romantic: 'Reflections on a Marine Venus' is largely an idyllic portrait of a post-war Rhodes, evoking, for me, a place where the world seems to work for the best even though it clearly isn't Panglossian. The other is mnemonical: during my mid-teens, my parents lived in Turkey, and summer holidays include expeditions to Ephesus, Pammukale, Troy, Gordium, Cappadocia and, most str
Joshua Rhys
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Durrell manages to evoke a sweeping, sepia-tinged portrait of Rhodes, coloured by his flowery, impressionistic prose. Quite like his ode to Cyprus (Bitter Lemons) it communicates his intoxication with Levantine world with a sunny eloquence and perceptive eye.

Written in the civic aftermath of the Second World War, Lawrence refrains from allowing his personal duties as a press officer to interrupt the current of his thought. His contemplations weave through the threads of history, observation and
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
I think this is a book that was probably good in its day, but just has not aged well. It seems to be from an era when snobbery was conflated with wit. There are moments of beauty--the line, "The child is the forfeit we pay for the whole sum of our worldly errors," is particularly memorable. It is interesting as a look at the immediate post-war era.
Timothy Ratliffe
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Considering that I am a long time devotee of Lawrence Durrell, the great word painter of the English-speaking world, I found this little book to be another masterpiece. I have always found it curious that Durrell seems to be a fountain of such obscure knowledge of obscure places in obscure times. How does he do it? Even after reading a couple his biographies I still don't know the answer to that. I may never be able to figure out how he gained such erudition.

As complex as his novels are, his tra
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Relato pintoresco de las costumbres de las islas griegas (especialmente de Rodas). Como siempre, Durrell captura el encanto local desde el punto de vista de un extranjero.
Feb 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
I have enjoyed all of Durrell's island books that I have read. His prose is so good it seems unfair to the other writers.
Chiefdonkey Bradey
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Each sentence rich and tender, bringing the warm sun to a pale garden
As always, Lawrence Durrell is transfixing. I actually read parts of Reflection on a Marine Venus out loud to myself because it intensified my enjoyment of the prose. I could tell you what I’ve learned about Rhodes from Durrell’s account – part memoir, part fiction in the sense that all memoir is part fiction – of his time there as a press officer after World War II, but I came away with more impressions of ancient sea battles and wine-drenched afternoons than hard facts. As such, I’ll let the p ...more
Michael Bafford
Jun 28, 2013 rated it liked it
My wife and I booked a trip to Rhodes. I found this book in the local library catalog and borrowed it, in Swedish. I started reading it here in Sweden and finished it on Rhodes, in Rhodes.

Our hotel turned out to be about two blocks from the house Durrell stayed in while writing the book. It's changed, of course, and is now next to a busy street sourrounded by a high metal fence. The oleanders are spread pretty thin and the sound of the ocean seldom sounds above the drone of traffic - if at all.
Robert Ross
Jul 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Durrell has this perfectly mid-century I'm not quite sure what it is, but its there. It reads a certain way that feels not quite like the past or the present, and certainly not the future. I have to admit a certain guilty pleasure in reading Durrell's "islomanian" novel/travelogues.

He has a way of describing a place to you that isn't quite travel writing or an annoying account of "exotic" lands. There is an ability in Durrell's writing to suggestively lead you along with him. T
Klaus Metzger
Jul 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: klaus
Wir besuchten 2001 die Insel RHODOS. Mit seinem ausgezeichneten Buch "Leuchtende Orangen" (1953 veröffentlicht) verhalf mir Lawrence Durrell auf eine sehr eindrucksvolle Art und Weise unsere Abenteuer auf der Ritterburg, im Hafen mit dem verschwundenen "Koloss von Rhodos", in Kamiros und in Lindos so nachzuvollziehen, als ob ich sie gestern erlebt hatte. So kann nur Lawrence Durrell schreiben. Schon sein Buch "Schwarze Oliven" über Korfu (1945 veröffentlicht) war nach unserem schönen Urlaub 2016 ...more
Durell's writing talent is undeniable. Two things out of his control were working against him however. The first was that he writes about one step above my reading level and the second was that we were introduced through this book at a time when I felt little desire to stretch myself as a reader. There were sections that were very good especially when he was speaking of Greek history. The rest was a little hard to decipher amongst the big words and Greek gods and historical figures that I'd neve ...more
Christian Pedersen
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: english, erindringer
Reading Reflections ... was an excellent and alien experience. Lawrence Durrell controls and commands the English language like a general and gentleman, and I found his descriptions of the Greek islands around 1950 mesmerizing yet weirder than any fantasy. Because I knew, that the place he showed me, didn't exist anymore. Even though it had been there a mere 60 years ago, it was now just as much beyond my grasp as Narnia or Bradbury's Mars. For that sensation alone, you should read this book.
Mar 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Okay, I'll admit I'm a sucker for British travel writing from the first half of the 20th century, and Durrell did not disappoint. Now, he's no Fermor, but his portrait of Rhodes in the immediate post-WWII period - when German troops and Italian colonists are still on the island - opens up a civilization that I presume is now almost completely lost.
Nov 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Durrell's descriptions of Rhodes are lush and vibrant; he is a master at evocative language. However, his rampant zenophobia towards Greek people is distracting and, frankly, appalling. Read this book to transport yourself to a Greek island; not to get a warm portrait of the island's inhabitants.
Rob Woodard
May 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not the best of Durrell's non-fiction "books of place," but still a very interesting read about his time on the island of Rhodes in the aftermath of WW2. Definitely worth reading for Durrell fans and for those who want to catch the feeling of the Greek Isles.
Lewis Manalo
Oct 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I took this instead of a guidebook when my wife and I went to Rhodes. The blend of history and his funny anecdotes helped make it a great trip.
Mark Crowe
Apr 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. Not only a great travel book but an interesting snapshot of expats immediately after the war trying to find their feet. The writing is alive and first rate.
Lesley Young
Apr 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Lovely look into life on a Greek Island.
Mar 02, 2009 rated it really liked it
A book about some exotic place that's not a piece of "travel writing," a genre which my hatred knows no bounds for.
Sep 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
There are moments of brilliance that capture a time and place that feels lost and almost mythical. Recommended but not really his best.
Julia Lipina
rated it really liked it
Sep 26, 2012
rated it really liked it
May 09, 2017
Jan Conacher
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Aug 11, 2011
Petr Jiskra
rated it it was ok
Dec 03, 2013
Shazzam Dabran
rated it it was amazing
Aug 21, 2007
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Lawrence George Durrell was a critically hailed and beloved novelist, poet, humorist, and travel writer best known for The Alexandria Quartet novels, which were ranked by the Modern Library as among the greatest works of English literature in the twentieth century. A passionate and dedicated writer from an early age, Durrell’s prolific career also included the groundbreaking Avignon Quintet, whose ...more
“…I once found a list of diseases as yet unclassified by medical science, and among these there occurred the word Islomania, which was described as a rare but by no means unknown affliction of spirit. There are people…who find islands somehow irresistible. The mere knowledge that they are on an island, a little world surrounded by the sea, fills them with an indescribable intoxication. These born “islomanes”…are direct descendents of the Atlanteans” 16 likes
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