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Although Durrell spent much of his life beside the Mediterranean, he wrote relatively little about Italy; it was always somewhere that he was passing through on the way to somewhere else. Sicilian Carousel is his only piece of extended writing on the country and, naturally enough for the islomaniac Durrell, it focuses on one of Italy's islands. Sicilian Carousel came relatively late in Durrell's career, and is based around a slightly fictionalized bus tour of the island.
invisible landfall. Sicily! Nice was clothed in a fragile brightness; wind furrowed the waters of the bay making the yachts dance and bow. Light clouds, washed whiter than white, passed smoothly against the summer sky. Colored awnings, strips of Raoul Dufy—it was all brilliantly there. Yes, but the airport was a ferment of police and militia armed to the eyes with automatic weapons. We had been having an epidemic of aimless kidnappings and slayings during the past few weeks—the new
nervous breakdown—his losses of memory, nagging insomnia, bursting into tears in the pulpit … it all related itself back to that moment of stress and the little sob. Yet—am I wrong?—I felt that he had an overwhelming desire to imitate Miss Lobb and kneel down in prayer but was held back by some unconscious and unformulated scruples against the heathen relics embedded in the church walls; the presence of Athena, in fact. But perhaps not, perhaps I am just romancing. At any rate the fact remains
seen him do it, but then he was not really to be trusted. But when we got down to the little square where the fountain stands we found that they were all already there, hanging over the railings. It was here that tragedy was to overtake them. The Bishop, like a sensible man, had brought along a tiny pair of opera glasses with which he examined architectural details with scrupulous attention—”standing off,” as he would put it, from them, and taking up a special stance, as he gazed up at the
with obvious pleasure. There were also clumps of healthy papyrus growing in the fountain. The site was also charming, being as low as a reef at the sea level, which suggested that the slightest wave would bounce into the fountain and disturb the peace of Arethusa, if indeed she still lived there. But leaning over the parapet in a trance of pleasant sunlight the poor wife of the Bishop suddenly let slip the little opera glasses and, stiff with horror, saw them roll down the stairs and tumble into
Beddoes who glimmered about everywhere like a dragonfly peering over people’s shoulders and whispering things they didn’t want to hear. “That man,” she told her dentist at the lunch table, “is a pure desecrator.” It was as good a way of viewing Beddoes as any we had invented, and her accent had an envenomed Midwestern sting in it. The lunch was toneless but the mountain air was fresh and we drank a good deal of wine with it; one had begun to feel rather fatigued, almost sleepy. We had been on