Colin Thubron’s Journey into Cyprus and the Literary Depiction of Cyprus as a Non-European Country

  • Abstract:

    Throughout his travelogue Journey into Cyprus (1975) Colin Thubron insisted on the negation of a pro-European feeling for Cyprus. After crisscrossing the island in 1972, he presented Cyprus as a conglomerate of cultures and civilizations (Hellenic, Phoenician, Ottoman, Egyptian, Italian, etc.), a fact that has provided the country with its uniqueness. However, despite the wide majority of the Greek population, the Hellenic element is minimised in Thubron’s travel account. According to the English writer, Cyprus is more Levantine than Greek, more Byzantine than Lusignan(French) or Venetian (Italian), more eastern than western, more Asian than European. Never in the whole book is the country’s European identity affirmed, as for Thubron the Lusignan or Venetian influences have remained confined within the aristocratic and royal minority and have therefore hardly permeated the lay population of Cyprus. Curiously enough, in spite of the 82-year British occupation of Cyprus (1878-1960), the author hardly mentions anything that the ex-colony may have inherited from her metropolis, “apart from chips”. The reasons for Colin’s negation of a European feeling for Cyprus may be attributed to the subtle anti-British feeling that Thubron perceived in the opinions of the Greek Cypriots that he met, most of whom believed that Britain had supported the Turkish Cypriots in the encouragement of the inter-communal strife between the two main ethnic and religious communities of the island, Greeks and Turks, and in the Turkish Cypriots’ quest for the partition of Cyprus.