Panikos Peonidhis. Ghalateia: Ola ta hromata tis thalassas.
PANIKOS POENIDHIS is a veteran prose writer of Cyprus with a very cosmopolitan life and relevant experiences from traveling, even living, in numerous countries. Ghalateia: Ola ta hromata tis thalassas (Galatea: All the colors of the sea), his latest novella, is expertly narrated as a modern fairytale with a strong lyrical feeling.
Achilles and Sarah, two Cypriots residing in London, meet in his Greek restaurant with a charming Aegean-sea decor and warm folkloric atmosphere. Both of them are mature, but still retaining nostalgic attachments to their island roots and marine culture, they fall in love, get married, and have a daughter whom they name Galatea. She inherits her mother's gift as a painter, and her father's almost atavistic adoration of the sea and its bright blue coloration. As the girl grows, her diligent father builds the family a picturesque cottage on an Aegean island where they enjoy many vacations with a simple life close to a beloved nature and conditions creating plenitude of being and happiness. They never abandon their urban occupations in Britain, where Galatea gets educated and acquires sophistication as a promising artist. Sarah dies early, and Galatea travels a good deal enriching her inner world with awareness and strong feelings. In the art school she attends in London, she meets Slava, an eccentric though talented Russian professor of painting, who charms her with his bohemian freedom of action, even social irresponsibility. Galatea falls in love with him, and after his visit to their Aegean cottage, gives birth to their child. Both, however, never discuss marriage, and, reluctantly, Slava realizes that he can't live with Galatea and their child for good. Achilles learns to accept this development as he observes his daughter's continuing happiness and fulfillment as a mother and an artist--the upbringer of a future gifted intellectual for a world with a new set of ethical values.
Almost like a modern allegory, Ghalateia: Ola ta hromata tis thalassas dramatizes a daring theme, which, although still controversial to many, constitutes a recognizable possibility in today's mobile and multinational lifestyles that know no limits of social or pathological restrictions. Like the mythical Galatea, Panikos Peonidhis's modern heroine needs a Pygmalion, above and beyond most conventional considerations and legalistic formalities.
M. Byron Raizis
University of Athens