Pope Joan: Translated & Adapted from the Greek

Pope Joan: Translated & Adapted from the Greek - Emmanuel Rhoides, Lawrence Durrell [These notes were made in 1983:]. Durrell translated and adapted this from Royidis' 1886 Greek original. A curious tale, told in a deceptively simple fashion. To my shame be it said, I have not read any other Durrell, so I cannot be sure how much the story owes that lucid, spirited manner to him, and how much to Royidis. Certainly the dryly ironic yet apparently scholarly notes at the end belong to Durrell. The story itself is poised on the verge of fact and fiction, though heavily overbalanced on the fiction side! What is more interesting is that it is also balanced on that slightly different dividing line between the historian/mythographer's province and the novelist's. Joan herself is treated as an imaginative (and imagined) character, her ambition and ability to fit into the slightly crazy world of pre-mediaeval Christianity both chronicled and openly admired by her author. It's a charming little experiment, where the levels of reality and illusion dance up and down, and one must control one's well-found literary paranoia - there are so many ways one could be "had." (I know, for instance, that there is a tradition of the existence of a female Pope - but I have not checked into the existence of Mr. Royidis!)