Half the Perfect World

Half the Perfect World : Writers, Dreamers and Drifters on Hydra: 1955-1964

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`Their years in the Aegean may have been half perfect at best, but it was on Hydra that they connected to a place, a lifestyle and a community that allowed them to live and express themselves intensely, and as they wished. They refused to believe their dreams were an illusion, or that boldness, ambition and a leap-of-faith might not allow them to reach beyond the constraints of their birthright'.

Half the Perfect World tells the story of the post-war international artist community that formed on the Greek island of Hydra. Most famously, it included renowned singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen and his partner Marianne Ihlen, as well as many other artists and writers including the Australian literary couple, Charmian Clift and George Johnston, who fostered this fabled colony.

Drawing on many previously unseen letters, manuscripts and diaries, and richly illustrated by the eyewitness photographs of LIFE magazine photo-journalist James Burke, Half the Perfect World reveals the private lives and relationships of the Hydra expatriates. It charts the promise of a creative life that drew many of them to the island, and documents the fracturing of the community as it came under pressure from personal ambitions and wider social changes. For all the unrealised youthful ambitions, internal strife and personal tragedy that attends this story, the authors nonetheless find that the example of these writers, dreamers and drifters continues to resonate and inspire.




'Paul Genoni and Tanya Dalziell have crafted a superb book that examines the dynamics of a group of singular individuals in a particular time and place. Deeply researched and erudite, written in an engaging style, and wonderfully illustrated, Half the Perfect World tells a story of Hydra as a home for creative bohemianism in the late '50s and early '60s....As much a labour of love as robust scholarship, sympathetic though by no means sentimental, Half the Perfect World avoids judgment or censure.' - Robert Clarke, Sydney Morning Herald


'Lovingly researched, carefully constructed, compelling.' - Glyn Davis, Australian Book Review - Books of the Year 2018
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Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 153 x 234 x 25.4mm | 793.79g
  • Clayton, VIC, Australia
  • English
  • 1925523098
  • 9781925523096
  • 30,882

About Paul Genoni

Paul Genoni works with the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts at Curtin University. He is a former president of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature, and co-editor (with Tanya Dalziell) of Telling Stories: Australian Life and Literature, 19352012 (2013). Tanya Dalziell works in English and Cultural Studies at the University of Western Australia. She is the author of Settler Romances and the Australian Girl (2004), and co-editor (with Karen Welberry) of Cultural Seeds: Essays on the Work of Nick Cave(2009).
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