Fall 2018


The Durrells and Their Greek Journeys (55+)

Lawrence Durrell is quoted as having said that all travel is introspective. He and his brother Gerald, the notable wildlife conservationist, sojourned on the Greek island of Corfu from 1931 to 1936, which set in motion two unique imaginative perspectives. Fundamentally, the brothers’ travels nurtured their lifetime passions and their works.

We will focus on the travel writings of Lawrence Durrell, using excerpts from Prospero’s Cell, Spirit of Place and The Greek Islands. We will also review Gerald Durrell’s hilarious classic My Family and Other Animals, which captured his childhood adventures on Corfu and inspired the popular TV series The Durrells. Guest speakers will join us to discuss Greek literature, history and archaeological finds from the Ionian islands.

Note: This course involves required reading.

Please note that enrollment in this course is reserved for adults 55+.

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

Campus Session(s) Instructor(s) Cost Seats available  
Vancouver 6 Beverley Gerolymatos $115.00 9 Register

What will I learn?

Week 1

We begin with an overview of 20th-century Greece; its history, politics, literature and culture. We introduce the main characters of Gerald Durrell’s My Family and Other Animals. We also consider Episode 1, Series 1 of the ITV series The Durrells. Dr. Kotsovili of the SNF Centre for Hellenic Studies gives a short guest presentation.

Week 2

We begin our exploration of Lawrence Durrell’s Spirit of Place and continue with My Family and Other Animals.  We discuss the two brothers, their writings and their connection to the Greek island of Corfu. We take in Episode 2 of The Durrells.

Week 3

We reflect on the archaeology and philosophy of Spirit of Place, and Lawrence Durrell’s The Greek Islands and discuss a proposed excavation on the island of Kefalonia and findings on other Ionian Islands. Short presentation from a guest speaker. Episode 3 of The Durrells.

Week 4

We discuss political issues and context with relation to Greece in the 1930s, and the impact on the Ionian Islands. We consider Bitter Lemons and Prospero’s Cell by Lawrence Durrell. Episode 4 of The Durrells.

Week 5

We discuss some of the poetry of Lawrence Durrell, along with some poety by Greek Nobel Laureate George Seferis. We look at Lawrence Durrell himself and discuss his work, and his impact on literature and travel writing. We see how Greece was becoming a tourist destination, as well as being popular with the literary elite such as Henry Miller. Episode 5 of The Durrells.

Week 6 

We consider the legacies of the Durrells; the TV series, their popularity, the main themes that remain of interest, and their world-wide impact. We explore the relevance of their literary works to our times; for example, to crises in Europe, to the notion of family, to ecology, and to fears of war. We consider excerpts from Prospero’s Cell. Episode 6 of The Durrells.

How will I learn?

  • Lectures
  • Discussion (may vary from class to class)
  • Papers (applicable only to certificate students)

How will I be evaluated?

For certificate students only:

Your instructor will evaluate you based on an essay, which you will complete at the end of the course. You will receive a grade of “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory.”

Textbooks and learning materials

There is required reading for this course.

Any version of  Gerald Durrell,  My Family and Other Animals.

This book will be available from the SFU Bookstore or at your local or online bookstore.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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