Lawrence Durrell in Bellapais
Bellapais had a very famous fan - the writer Lawrence Durrell, who wrote here his well-known book "the bitter lemons of Cyprus". Some passages are dedicated to Bellapais and its Abbey, like the following:
"Bellapaix, even in ruins, was a testimony to those who had tried, however imperfectly, to grasp and retain their grip on the inner substance of the imagination, which resides in thought, in contemplation, in the Peace which had formed part of its original name, and which in my spelling I have always tried to retain... But no such thought was in my mind that first spring morning as I walked in those deserted cloisters, touching the rosy stones of the old Abbey with an idle hand, noticing the blaze of flowers . . . and here and there, bursting from a clump of fallen masonry, cracking the rock triumphantly, the . . . plumes of yellow fennel. . . . In that silence the light airs of the plain climbed up to us, full of the small sound of birds as they stooped and dived in the blue gulf below. Somewhere near at hand came the rustle and dribble of spring-water feeding the flowers."
Lawrence Durrell in Bitter Lemons, "The Tree of Idleness"
While Cyprus is often touted as a tourist destination, the origins of the prolonged war between the island`s Greek and the Turkish communities are less well known. In Bitter Lemons of Cyprus--first published in 1957--Lawrence Durrell blends the story of beginning a new life in this beautiful place with an account of the conflict`s beginnings. It is a narrative that retains political relevance today. The book starts out like something by Peter Mayle or Chris Stewart, a forerunner of the "good life abroad" genre. Durrell is a hard-up writer looking for Mediterranean peace and a stunning old house--Cyprus obliges. But circumstances and Durrell`s poetic genius ensure that the book is far more than a glib chronicle of hilarious events and eccentric neighbours. These exist in plenty, and Durrell writes about them with zest and great wit, but slowly he gets drawn into the unfolding tragedy of Cyprus`s battle for self-determination.