Published by Scribe in November 2010
This is a travel book in the grand sense. The horizons it explores are of land and sea, and of the mind.
Greek Pilgrimage is a meditation on classical Greece, journeying through its great sites, monuments, and cultural works. On the way, it examines the country’s pivotal role in the foundation of the modern world. We who are born into the West are all Greeks. Here lie our roots.
The ancient Greeks invite us to think about who we are, and the best ways to organise ourselves, to build institutions, and to make our cities beautiful. They lead us into a sceptical orientation to ourselves and the world we inhabit, questioning the meaning of it all. They have bequeathed to us science and philosophy, drama and sport, our engagement with nature, and much else that graces our modern world.
In Greece, our metaphysical perspective was set. We were introduced to the mystery — an abiding sense that there is a deep secret, one which somehow holds the key to the big questions about life. An aura lives on, a mysterious vitality, among the ruins that remain today — in Delphi, at Olympia, and on the Acropolis.
Greek Pilgrimage is also designed to serve as a practical guide for the modern traveller to Greece. Two itineraries are recommended at the end, with maps and illustrations.
‘A vivid, atmospheric portrait of the classical world that not only brings the past to life but carries with it a strong sense of its continuing significance and resonance.’
The Age (Pick of the Week)
‘His book is a meditation on classical Greece, on its great sites, monuments and works. Travelling among them is compared to a journey home. And Carroll’s joy in his subject, his intellectual range and the curious vitality he senses in the ruins and scattered marble, is highly infectious.’
‘a very good introduction to classical Greece.’
BRUCE ELDER, Age/Sydney Morning Herald (Travel)
‘Drawing on ancient literature, art and modern writings, Carroll uses clear and straightforward language to show how the ruins and relics of ancient Greece aren’t just dusty museum exhibits.’
ANTHONY GOUGH, Courier Mail
‘evocative, graceful and insightful’
‘An excellent guide to the major sites…with this book in your backpack you’ll not only be able to explore the magnificent ruins of, say, the Parthenon and the Erechtheum, but also to sit afterwards sipping ouzo at a cafe amid the chaos of modern Athens and meditate on what they have to say about the purpose of life today.’
New Zealand Herald
‘Rich, epic and multi-dimensional. It is a journey through time, through a landscape … it is both an actual and a metaphysical journey. Carroll has taken the idea of cultural tourism to new heights…Greek Pilgrimage is not only an unusual travelogue, in a world of clashing civilisations it is important we have a clear sense of what the West’s heritage is, and what is at stake. This utterly fascinating volume serves that end.’
‘Apart from anything else, it is good to know there is room in publishing for different styles of intelligent travel writing. Carroll refers to “our” journey, but this is a trip he is making himself, his mind pulsing with a lifetime’s meditation on Greek mythology and history, and in which he is guided in his responses to the landscape by the ardent spirit of Nietzsche, one of the most significant influences in his life. Indeed, there are echoes of the divine madness we may associate with the more sublime ravings of the master … It is an exhilarating performance that repays re-reading to better grasp the subtleties of the argument. Carroll’s chapters read like cadenzas and the last part of the book has a hallucinatory quality … Though the journey is challenging, perhaps exhausting, Carroll’s Greek pilgrimage is a trip worth taking.’
SIMON CATERSON, Weekend Australian