In July I will be flying to Greece to join dozens of other storytellers at the annual FEST (Federation for European Storytelling) conference on Kea Island. This will be my very first trip to Greece, which is shameful, given the fact that I have an MA in Archaeology... But better late than never. As a storyteller I like to prepare for my trips by... reading. A lot. Of stories.
So, without further ado, here is the reading list I plan to complete by July:
Pausanias: Guide to Greece
The classic of classics; if I left it at home I would probably go straight to Classics Hell for it. When I was in college the Hungarian translation was almost impossible to find - when I came across a hidden copy at the bookstore, I spent my entire semester's textbook aid on it. It is a 2nd century AD description of Hellas, in great detail and a lot of intriguing stories.
Ancient Athens on 5 Drachmas a Day
Okay, so this is a fun read, not necessarily a scientific one. It got mixed reviews, and I wouldn't rely on it in serious research... But it sounds entertaining anyway!
John Tomkinson: Travels in Athens
I love reading travel journals, and I was having trouble locating some about Athens. Luckily, I came across this gem of a collection that did all the work for me! Tomkinson compiles excerpts from travel journals and diaries from the 17th century all the way to the 20th from famous travelers, explorers, poets, etc. It is an entire series of books, so wherever you go in Greece, there will be a book for it filled with the adventures of travelers that have gone before you!
John Tomkinson: Travels in the Northern and Western Cyclades
Since my travels will take me to Kea as well as Athens, I also bought the corresponding volume from the series.
As my favorite Greek... er, Syrian... er, Hellenistic author, Lucian is definitely taking the trip with me. His Dialogues are some of the most hilarious satire pieces I have read, and they have held up over the past 18 centuries quite well. The volume includes the Dialogues of the Gods (whining about their everyday life and heartbreaks), the Dialogues of the Dead (similarly poignant), and the Dialogues of the Courtesans, painting a vivid picture of the life of women of pleasure in Athens...
On top of these 5, I also have 2 Hungarian books on my list:
1. The travel journal of the Hungarian poet who translated the Iliad, the Odyssey, and a huge chunk of other Greek literature to Hungarian in the first half of the 20th century. He was not only a Classicist and a poetic genius, but also a gentle soul with a great sense of humor. He first visited Greece 25 years after he did all the translation work, and the journal is a touching ode to him finally seeing all the places he spent his life writing about.
(Devecseri Gábor: Epidauroszi tücskök, szóljatok...)
I am taking with me a collection of his poems he wrote on the same trip.
2. The travel journal of one of my favorite Hungarian authors, Magda Szabó, who was also trained in Classics, and on top of writing amazing historical fiction, she also wrote a diary that is both clever and hilarious. Even decades after her trip, I could still use it in Rome to find some hidden gems. I expect the same from her Greek memories... (Szabó Magda: Zeusz küszöbén)
There is no better way to travel than to travel with stories, and with people who have gone before you. Do you have favorite travel literature?