Thursday, July 03, 2008

Miller in Hydra, 1939

"Hydra is almost a bare rock of an island and its population, made up almost exclusively of seamen, is rapidly dwindling. The town, which clusters about the harbor in the form of an amphitheatre, is immaculate. There are only two colors, blue and white, and the white is whitewashed every day, down to the cobblestones in the street. The houses are even more cubistically arranged than at Poros. Aesthetically it is perfect, the very epitome of that flawless anarchy which supersedes, because it includes and goes beyond, all the formal arrangments of the imagination. This purity, this wild and naked perfection of Hydra, is in great part due to the spirit of the men who once dominated the island."
--- Henry Miller, The Colossus of Maroussi, p. 55
The passage above, from The Colossus of Maroussi, continues in this same vein for a couple more pages. Hydra makes a strong impression on Miller, as does most of Greece during his prolonged visit in 1939. He leaves Greece due only to the tension of the looming world war, when he is forced out and back to America.
Posted today on the photo blog website Ellopos.org, is the photograph of Henry Miller at Hydra , as seen below.
This photo was taken in 1939, and is credited to George Seferis. Seferis (whose real last name is Seferiades) went to Hydra in the Fall of 1939, along with Miller and George Katsimbalis, who were off to visit the painter Ghika at his ancestral home. Miller writes about this visit over the course of several pages of Maroussi, beginning on p. 52.
"Hydra was entered as a pause in the musical score of creation by an expert calligrapher."

13 Comments:

Anonymous Rob said...

That's a great photograph. Didn't Leonard Cohen live on Hydra for a while?

7:47 am  
Anonymous Eric L said...

Miller's description of coming into Hydra on a boat, as if he is sailing on dry land, is absolutely correct. The narrow strait which the boat edged through really made it seem as if we were sailing through the street.

I didn't mention this wonder in my Ghost of Henry Miller essay, but I probably should have...

4:07 pm  
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Anonymous Custom Home Detailing said...

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Any place in Mediterenian would do for me. Beautiful, full of history and sun that the place would make me a poet, writer or painter. Check out the history and you would find many of them found refuge in one of those Mediterenian paradises.

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