Nostalgia, books and “The Durrells in Corfu”


Watching seasons 1 and 2 of The Durrells – aka The Durrells in Corfu – makes me happy for so many reasons. But mostly because it brings back some memories.

It makes me happy because, as the name suggests, it is filmed on the Greek island of Corfu. It is where the real-life British family (of writers and globe-trotters) on which the series is based relocated to in the 1930s. I have been there only once, during my last year at school. It is a habit in Greece to take this trip with your class and some unfortunate accompanying teachers.

Sunset at Corfu, Greece.
Sunset at Corfu, Greece.

Before parting with my classmates, before embarking for the big adventure called adult life, we enjoyed Corfu in the spring with its sunsets, its old buildings, its incredibly beautiful landscapes.

Love was in the air. And cigarettes and alcohol.

Watching The Durrells reminds me of how I was reading Alexandria Quartet – actually written by one of the series’s protagonists, Lawrence Durrell – during my university years, and how I didn’t want it to end. I was immersed in the atmosphere of the Egyptian city as created by (Larry) Durrell.

In the streets of the city of Alexandria of that time, there was intrigue and mysticism and passion. A multicultural society long before this term was invented. And there was also my beloved poet Cavafy, whom my grandfather had actually met in reality during the 1930’s or maybe earlier.

Watching The Durrells makes me think of my roommate S., again during my university years, reading the books by Gerald Durrell and laughing out loud with every sentence. Actually we owe The Durrells to Gerry’s wonderful and very funny childhood memoirs, My Family and Other Animals, Birds, Beasts and Relatives, and The Garden of the Gods. The young actor Milo Parker playing Gerry, by the way, is so talented and convincing in this role.

Watching the series I remember reading Henry Miller’s The Colossus of Maroussi glorifying George Katsimbalis, a Greek intellectual, and his circle of friends. This is another book I loved, and it relates to Larry as well, since it’s inspired by the author’s visit to him in Greece.

Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell were good friends, and their exchange of letters is also worth reading.

They admired each other’s writing and tried to encourage each other whenever the world of publishing houses was mean to them.

Watching The Durrells subconsciously made me think of Patrick Leigh Fermor, another friend of Larry’s and a great friend of Greece.

If you have never heard his name, check out his life on this site, created by a great fan of his, or try to read one of his books. His entire life was a big adventure, he was larger than life, to use a commonplace description, and his books and diaries are also an adventure for the reader. Probably the most well-read person that ever has been and one who couldn’t live without travelling.

Boats at Corfu, Greece.
Boats at Corfu, Greece.

But even without all these literary or personal associations, watching The Durrells is a must.

For the excellent filming, acting, music and everything that usually goes along with a good British production. For the scenery and the costumes and the air of non morbid nostalgia. For the laughs and the idea of an innocent childhood amidst the nature that today seems like a dream.

For all the animals. For Larry and Gerry. For Margo. For Leslie. For their mother.

Cover shot: PBS poster for The Durrells in Corfu, widely used for publicizing the show. Full episodes of the series are available to watch online on their official site for some regions.

Lito Seizani contributes giving personal insights into being an every-day tourist. She is the author of "The Ideal Bench", which is available on Amazon.

Default thumbnail
Previous Story

Poem: "Elusive (the horizon)"

Default thumbnail
Next Story

"There's a love at every corner"

Latest from Literature

Die Qual der Wahl

The German phrase “Die Qual der Wahl”, meaning “the torture of choice”, is suitable whenever we