ISLANDS OF THE MIND: Festival June 2019

The Durrell Library of Corfu announces


Corfu, Greece

 23-28 June 2019

The Durrell School/Library has always attracted the enquiring and adventurous mind, welcoming its guests into a community of intellectual excitement. We are confident that this festival will provide stimulus for all participants across a range of literary and scientific issues.


The festival will examine aspects of Island Studies, focussing on:

– indigenous island writing compared with writing by the “visitor”

– the literature and psychology of “islomania” – the “affliction of spirit” for those “who find islands irresistible”

– the study of islands as a microcosm of biodiversity

– the “tourist gaze” and tourism as a dimension of island development

This will be the most significant gathering for many years of experts on the lives and works of Lawrence Durrell, Gerald Durrell and Theodore Stephanides and on the writers of Corfu.

In addition to these authors, we will also discuss the work of Corfiot writers Konstantin Theotokis (1872-1923) and Spyros Plaskovitis (1917-2000).


Keynote speaker: Godfrey Baldacchino (Professor of Sociology, University of Malta; UNESCO co-chair of Island Studies, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada; author/editor of many books on island studies including the Routledge International Handbook of Island Studies)

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Rony Alfandary (psychoanalytic psychotherapist, Bar-Ilan University, Israel; author of A Psychoanalytic Study of Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet: Exile and Return)

  • Ciarán Benson (emeritus Professor of Psychology, University College Dublin; author of The Cultural Psychology of Self: place, morality and art in human worlds)***

  • Demosthenes Davvetas (poet; Corfu and the Sorbonne)

  • Lee Durrell (honorary director, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust; widow of Gerald Durrell; author of Gaia: State of the Ark – an atlas of Conservation in Action)

  • Dominic Green (adjunct lecturer, Boston College, jazz musician, columnist Spectator USA)

  • Peter Hay (honorary research associate in environmental studies, University of Tasmania; author of A Companion to Environmental Thought)

  • Anthony Hirst and Vera Konidari (respectively publisher and biographer of Theodore Stephanides)

  • Joanna Hodgkin (novelist, biographer of her mother, Nancy Durrell: Amateurs in Eden: the story of a Bohemian marriage – Nancy and Lawrence Durrell)

  • Ravi Nambiar (India; author of Indian Metaphysics in Lawrence Durrell’s Novels)

  • Éilís ní Dhuibhne (Ireland: distinguished author of novels, short stories and children’s literature)***

  • Simon Nye (scriptwriter of the “Durrells on Corfu” television series)

  • Spyros Orfanos (Professor of Psychology, New York University; author of Relational Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy; native of Erikousa island, Corfu)

  • Richard Pine (Director, Durrell Library of Corfu and author of Lawrence Durrell: the Mindscape).

Talks by the featured speakers will be followed by open discussion in which all will be invited to participate.

*** The participation of Ciarán Benson and Éilís ní Dhuibhne is supported by CULTURE IRELAND


Meetings will be held in Corfu city-centre at the Solomos Museum, the former home of Dionysios Solomos (1798-1857), the founder of modern Greek poetry and author of the Greek national anthem “Hymn to Liberty”. The house has been faithfully restored by our hosts, the Society of Corfu Studies.

For one session, we will travel by caïque (traditional fishing vessel) from Corfu Old Port to the White House (Lawrence and Nancy Durrell’s home at Kalami) with an opportunity for swimming at the “Shrine of St Arsenius”.


A unique feature of “ISLANDS OF THE MIND” will be the publication in a limited edition of Lawrence Durrell’s previously unpublished 1930s novella The Magnetic Island (set in the Ionian islands, with illustrations by Nancy Durrell and dedicated to Theodore Stephanides) with a specially commissioned translation into Greek by Vera Konidari.


Thanks to generous private sponsorship we are able to offer admission to the symposium at the heavily discounted fee of 145 euros (US$165; £130). This fee includes all advance information, documentation, a welcome reception (Sunday 23 June), transportation to, and buffet lunch at, the White House, Kalami (Wednesday 26 June) and the final dinner on Friday 28 June.

We can also offer a 20% discount on all publications on sale from the Durrell Library of Corfu and Colenso Books.

Hotel accommodations and all other meals, entertainment and transportation are not included.

The Durrell Library will provide recommendations for city-centre hotel accommodation at rates negotiated by our agent.

Convenors: William Apt (Attorney at Law, Austin, Texas); Vera Konidari (Society of Corfu Studies and biographer of Theodore Stephanides); Richard Pine (Director, Durrell Library of Corfu and author, Lawrence Durrell: the Mindscape).

DRAFT PROGRAMME (subject to change)


7pm Welcome reception


09.30-10.00 Opening address by Richard Pine

10-11.30 Godfrey BALDACCHINO – the Psychology of Islands

Respondent: Spyros ORFANOS (Erikousa/NYU)

coffee break

12-1.30pm Lee DURRELL – Islands as a study of biodiversity

Respondent Peter HAY (University of Tasmania)

7-8pm Poetry and artwork by Demosthenes DAVVETAS (Corfu/Sorbonne)


10-11.30 Rony ALFANDARY – Reading Lawrence Durrell’s Psyche

Respondent: Dominic GREEN (Boston)

coffee break

12-1.00pm Ravi NAMBIAR – The Indian element in Lawrence Durrell’s philosophy

1pm-2pm Éilís NÍ DHUIBHNE: the outsider/insider difference in island writing

7-8.30pm Anna KORNILIOU: a presentation on Konstantin Theotokis (with the participation of a descendant, Dimitris Theotokis) followed by a screening of (excerpts from) “Oi sklavoi sto desma tous” [Slaves in their Chains]


Caique from Old Harbour to St Arsenius (swimming) and KALAMI

Talk by Joanna HODGKIN at Kalami

Q&A Simon NYE in conversation with Dominic GREEN followed by Lunch

Return to Corfu


10-11.30 Vera KONIDARIS and Anthony HIRST – presentation on Theodore Stephanides

coffee break

12-1.30pm Round-table – Writing the Island: the Durrells

David Green, Bruce Redwine, David Roessel, Nabil Abdel-Al

7-8.30pm Screening of “The Garden of the Gods” (Gerald Durrell)

and a new ITV documentary on The Durrells in Corfu (to be screened in UK April 2019)


10-11am Presentation on Spyros Plaskovitis with the participation of Dimitri Konidaris and Perikles Pankratis

coffee break

11.30-1pm Richard PINE – “The Heraldic Universe: the Magnetic Island and self-discovery”

Respondent: Ciaran BENSON (emeritus University College Dublin)

1pm-2pm Round-table final discussion with Brewster CHAMBERLIN (author of A Lawrence Durrell Chronology) and other speakers

Evening: Farewell dinner