Friday, December 30, 2011

Review: Pope Joan (Lawrence Durrell)

This work by Lawrence Durrell is a 1954 translation of the Greek Papissa Joanna of Emmannuel Royidis which was written in 1886.  As such, the review is really covering the original work and is not a critique of Durrell's translation of the original work.
Joanna’s story begins with her humble antecedents – the daughter of an unnamed English monk (who is never named) and a buxom Saxon goose girl called Judith. Her father-monk is inspired to leave England and preach in the land of the great Charles (whom I am presuming to be Charlemagne), which he did as a wandering missionary for eight years until his “every hope of paternity” was cruelly removed. Whether through miraculously conception or rape, Joanna was born sometime in the year 818. And eight years later, following the passing of Joanna’s mother and a curious incident with a bare-breasted Abbess, Joanna’s father once more embarks on the missionary trail, this time with Joanna to accompany him.

You can read more of my review at

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