The Colossus of Maroussi

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The Colossus of Maroussi
First edition
Author Henry Miller
CountryUnited States
PublisherColt Press
Publication date
ISBN 978-0-8112-1857-3

The Colossus of Maroussi is an impressionist travelogue by American writer Henry Miller that was first published in 1941 by Colt Press of San Francisco. Set in pre-war Greece of 1939, it is ostensibly an exploration of the "Colossus" of the title, George Katsimbalis, a poet and raconteur. The work is frequently heralded as Miller's best.



In 1939, American writer Henry Miller left Paris, his home of nine years, as the Nazis began to take action in Europe and the outbreak of the Second World War loomed. In need of rejuvenation, he traveled to Greece at the invitation of his friend, British writer Lawrence Durrell, who lived in Corfu. Miller had already published what are considered some of his best-known works, including Tropic of Cancer , Black Spring , and Tropic of Capricorn . [1]

Miller drew his Colossus from events that occurred and landscapes he encountered while living for nine months in Greece. His portrayal of poet Katsimbalis and the country is tempered by the outbreak of the Second World War, which forced him to leave for the United States in December 1939. [2] Miller wrote the book in New York, and it reflects his resentment at having to return to America, as well as his feeling of isolation there. [2]


The light of Greece opened my eyes, penetrated my pores, expanded my whole being.

Henry Miller [3]

Miller travels in Athens, Crete, Corfu, Poros, Hydra and Delphi. As he describes these places, he also portrays Greek writer George Katsimbalis (the "Colossus" of the book's title). Among other characters are Lawrence Durrell, his first wife Nancy, and Theodore Stephanides. Some critics said that the Colossus is more of a self-portrait of Miller himself. [4] They have also noted the influence of D. H. Lawrence and Ernest Hemingway as expressed in this book. [1]

Critical reception

Critics consider this to be Miller's best, a view which the author also held. [2] [5] [6] [7] Pico Iyer describes the novel as an "ecstatic ramble". [8] Will Self depicts Miller in the novel as "a relentless fabulist who advances solipsism to the status of one of the fine arts." [4]

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Henry Miller American novelist (1891–1980)

Henry Valentine Miller was an American novelist. He broke with existing literary forms and developed a new type of semi-autobiographical novel that blended character study, social criticism, philosophical reflection, stream of consciousness, explicit language, sex, surrealist free association, and mysticism. His most characteristic works of this kind are Tropic of Cancer, Black Spring, Tropic of Capricorn, and the trilogy The Rosy Crucifixion, which are based on his experiences in New York and Paris. He also wrote travel memoirs and literary criticism, and painted watercolors.

Lawrence Durrell British novelist, poet, dramatist, and travel writer

Lawrence George Durrell was an expatriate British novelist, poet, dramatist, and travel writer. He was the eldest brother of naturalist and writer Gerald Durrell.

Gerald Durrell British naturalist, writer and television presenter (1925–1995)

Gerald Malcolm Durrell, was a British naturalist, writer, zookeeper, conservationist, and television presenter. He founded the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Jersey Zoo on the Channel Island of Jersey in 1959. He wrote approximately forty books, mainly about his life as an animal collector and enthusiast, the most famous being My Family and Other Animals (1956). Those memoirs of his family's years living in Greece were adapted into two television series and one television film. He was the youngest brother of novelist Lawrence Durrell.

<i>My Family and Other Animals</i>

My Family and Other Animals (1956) is an autobiographical book by British naturalist Gerald Durrell. It tells in an exaggerated and sometimes fictionalised way of the years that he lived as a child with his siblings and widowed mother on the Greek island of Corfu between 1935 and 1939. It describes the life of the Durrell family in a humorous manner, and explores the fauna of the island. It is the first and most well-known of Durrell's Corfu trilogy, which also includes Birds, Beasts, and Relatives (1969) and The Garden of the Gods (1978).

<i>Tropic of Cancer</i> (novel) 1934 novel by Henry Miller

Tropic of Cancer is a novel by Henry Miller that has been described as "notorious for its candid sexuality" and as responsible for the "free speech that we now take for granted in literature." It was first published in 1934 by the Obelisk Press in Paris, France, but this edition was banned in the United States. Its publication in 1961 in the U.S. by Grove Press led to obscenity trials that tested American laws on pornography in the early 1960s. In 1964, the U.S. Supreme Court declared the book non-obscene. It is regarded as an important work of 20th-century literature.

Obelisk Press was an English-language press based in Paris, founded by British publisher Jack Kahane in 1929.

Alfred Perlès (1897–1990) was an Austrian writer, who was most famous for his associations with Henry Miller, Lawrence Durrell, and Anaïs Nin.

Margaret Durrell

Margaret Isabel Mabel "Margo" Durrell was the younger sister of novelist Lawrence Durrell and elder sister of naturalist, author, and TV presenter Gerald Durrell, who lampoons her character in his Corfu trilogy of novels: My Family and Other Animals, Birds, Beasts and Relatives, and The Garden of the Gods.

Louisa Florence Durrell, was an Anglo-Irish woman born in India during the British Raj. She was the mother of Lawrence and Gerald Durrell. She was featured in Gerald Durrell's autobiographical Corfu trilogy, which tells about the Durrells' years in Corfu from 1935 to 1939 in a somewhat fictionalized way.

Theodore Stephanides Greek-British doctor and biologist

Theodore Philip Stephanides was a Greek-British doctor and polymath, best remembered as the friend and mentor of Gerald Durrell. He was also known as a naturalist, biologist, astronomer, poet, writer and translator.

<i>The Rosy Crucifixion</i>

The Rosy Crucifixion, a trilogy consisting of Sexus, Plexus, and Nexus, is a fictionalized account documenting the six-year period of Henry Miller's life in Brooklyn as he falls for his second wife June and struggles to become a writer, leading up to his initial departure for Paris in 1928. The title comes from a sentence near the end of Miller's Tropic of Capricorn: "All my Calvaries were rosy crucifixions, pseudo-tragedies to keep the fires of hell burning brightly for the real sinners who are in danger of being forgotten."

The Durrell family was an English family, two of whose members were best-selling writers. It has been the subject of several autobiographies, the TV series My Family and Other Animals (1987), the television film My Family and Other Animals (2005), the largely fictionalized TV series The Durrells (2016–2019), and the documentary What the Durrells Did Next.

<i>The Garden of the Gods</i> Autobiographical book by naturalist and author, Gerald Durrell

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Marie Aspioti

Maria-Aspasia (Marie) Aspioti, was a distinguished Corfiote writer, playwright, poet, magazine publisher and cultural figure who influenced the literary and cultural life of post-war Corfu. She published the magazine Prosperos between the years 1949–1954, and Lear's Corfu in 1965. She was a close friend of Lawrence Durrell and had been awarded an MBE.

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The following is a bibliography of Henry Miller by category.

Richard Leslie Beswetherick Pine is the author of critical works on the Irish playwright Brian Friel, the Anglo-Irish novelist Lawrence Durrell, and aspects of art music in Ireland. He worked for the Irish national broadcaster RTÉ Raidió Teilifís Éireann before moving to Greece in 2001 to found the Durrell School of Corfu, which he directed until 2010. In 2012, to mark the centenary of the birth of Lawrence Durrell, Pine edited and introduced a previously unpublished novel by Durrell, Judith, set in 1940s Palestine. He has since edited a further novel by Durrell The Placebo, and a 2-volume edition of Durrell's ephemeral and hard-to-find material - plays, short novels, stories, diaries and travel writings. From 2009 to 2020 he wrote a regular column on Greek affairs in The Irish Times and was also an obituarist for The Guardian. Lawrence Durrell described Pine's work as "the best unpacking of my literary baggage I have heard."

<i>The Air-Conditioned Nightmare</i>

The Air-Conditioned Nightmare is a memoir written by Henry Miller, first published in 1945, about his year-long road trip across the United States in 1939, following his return from nearly a decade living in Paris.

George (Giorgos) Katsimbalis was a Greek intellectual, editor and writer, animator of the "30s generation" and the "patriarch" of the bibliography of modern Greek literature, known as the "Colossus of Maroussi" owing to Henry Miller's homonym work.


  1. 1 2 Rayner, Richard (25 July 2010). "Paperback Writers: Henry Miller's Grecian days". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 11 October 2018. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  2. 1 2 3 George Wickes (3 June 1966). Henry Miller - American Writers 56: University of Minnesota Pamphlets on American Writers. University of Minnesota Press. p. 33. ISBN   978-0-8166-0386-2 . Retrieved 21 October 2012.
  3. Miller, Henry (18 May 2010). The Colossus of Maroussi (Second ed.). New Directions Publishing. p. 210. ISBN   978-0-8112-1857-3 . Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  4. 1 2 The Colossus of Maroussi By Henry Miller, Introduction by Will Self, Ian S. MacNiven, pp.10-11.
  5. Alden Whitman, "Henry Miller, 88, Dies in California," New York Times , June 9, 1980.
  6. Vidal, Gore (9 September 1988). "From outlaws to intriguers". The Times Literary Supplement. p. 979. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  7. Hoffmann, Andy (2007). "On The Colossus of Maroussi: A Meditation on the End of War" (PDF). Salt Flats Annual. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2021.
  8. Iyer, Pico. "Going Mad for Greece". The New York Review of Books.