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Biography & Autobiography Personal Memoirs

Mermaids and Ikons

A Greek Summer

by (author) Gwendolyn MacEwen

introduction by Rosemary Sullivan

House of Anansi Press Inc
Initial publish date
Aug 2017
Personal Memoirs, Essays & Travelogues
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2017
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2017
    List Price

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Award-winning poet and novelist Gwendolyn MacEwen explores her strongly personal responses to the landscape, culture, and people of Greece in this exquisitely written travel diary, which was originally published in 1978.

Originally published in 1978, beloved poet and novelist Gwendolyn MacEwen’s first work of nonfiction explores her strongly personal responses to a complex civilization. Partly written during a trip to Greece in 1971, MacEwen moves from the urban tumult of Athens to the radiant simplicity of an island in the Aegean. In this intimate and exquisitely written travel diary, she evokes the very spirit of Greece — the exuberance of the people, the sun-drenched landscape, and the shaping power of ancient traditions and myths in modern Mediterranean life.

About the authors

Gwendolyn MacEwen was born in Toronto in 1941 and died there in 1987. A writer of great talent and versatility, she wrote novels, travel books, children's books and radio drama, as well as poetry books including The Shadow-Maker (1969) and Afterworlds (1987), both of which won Governor General's Awards. She published two collections of short stories, Noman (1972) and Noman's Land (1985), which includes "The Other Country," a prize winner in the 1983 CBC Canadian Literary Awards.

Gwendolyn MacEwen's profile page

ROSEMARY SULLIVAN is an acclaimed biographer, poet and editor. She is the author of nine books of non-fiction, including Villa Air-Bel, which was awarded a Canadian Jewish Book Award; Labyrinth Of Desire: Women, Passion and Romantic Obsession; By Heart: Elizabeth Smart—A Life and the #1 bestseller The Red Shoes: Margaret Atwood, Starting Out. Her biography of Gwendolyn MacEwen, Shadow Maker, won the Governor General’s Literary Award for Non-fiction, the Canadian Authors Association Literary Award, the Toronto Book Award and the University of British Columbia Medal for Canadian Biography. Sullivan’s journalistic pieces have won her a National Magazine Awards silver medal and a Western Journalism first prize for travelogue; her academic honours include Killam, Trudeau and Guggenheim fellowships. She lives in Toronto, where she is a professor of English at the University of Toronto.

Rosemary Sullivan's profile page

Excerpt: Mermaids and Ikons: A Greek Summer (by (author) Gwendolyn MacEwen; introduction by Rosemary Sullivan)

The windows of the night train revealed a landscape almost lunar in its starkness. The trail hugged a wall of rock made steel blue by midnight; the mountainside had the consistency of quicksilver. When we passed over the bridge at the great canal of Corinth, we seemed to be suspended in a hunk of purple midnight space. Everything dwarfed us. We were on our way to Mycenae.

The next morning, rainwater turned red as blood in the hollows of the stones in Corinth. Nikos and I stood in the ancient agora and gazed up at the mountain where holy whores once had their temple; a Byzantine castle now clings precariously to the summit. Everything’s so big in this country, I thought. What is it? Everything’s stretching and reaching and gasping for more and more space. The infamous light seems to yank things out of their contexts and present them naked and fullblown to the eye. Everything demands attention; there is nothing subtle about Greece.

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