Captain Corelli's Mandolin

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Title Captain Corelli's Mandolin
Author(s) Louis de Bernières
Published 1994
Social Media Goodreads, LibraryThing
Purchase Available on Amazon

Captain Corelli's Mandolin, also published as Corelli's Mandolin, is a 1994 historical fiction novel by British author Louis de Bernières, set primarily on the Greek island of Cephalonia during World War 2.

Publisher's Summary

Extravagant, inventive, emotionally sweeping, Corelli's Mandolin is the story of a timeless place that one day wakes up to find itself in the jaws of history. The place is the Greek island of Cephallonia, where gods once dabbled in the affairs of men and the local saint periodically rises from his sarcophagus to cure the mad. Then the tide of World War II rolls onto the island's shores in the form of the conquering Italian army.

Caught in the occupation are Pelagia, a willful, beautiful young woman, and the two suitors vying for her love: Mandras, a gentle fisherman turned ruthless guerilla, and the charming, mandolin-playing Captain Corelli, a reluctant officer of the Italian garrison on the island. Rich with loyalties and betrayals, and set against a landscape where the factual blends seamlessly with the fantastic, Corelli's Mandolin is a passionate novel as rich in ideas as it is genuinely moving.

LGBT Representation

May contain spoilers

Although the primary romance is heterosexual, a secondary and occasionally POV character, Carlo Guercio, is a closeted gay man in love with the hero, Antonio Corelli. A large and immensely powerful man, Carlo ultimately sacrifices his own life to save Corelli's, and Corelli discovers Carlo's hidden feelings many years later.

Despite being an Italian solider, Carlo is a Grecophile and collaborates with a Greek partisan to write anti-Mussolini pamphlets. In one of his POV chapters, he writes movingly about his identification with the Greeks:

According to Dante, my like is confined to the third ring of the Seventh Circle of Nether Hell, in the improbable company of usurers. He gives me a desert of naked spirits scourged by flakes of fire, he makes me run in circles, perpetually and in futility, looking for the ones whose bodies I've defiled. You see how it is; I have been driven to search everywhere just to find myself mentioned. I am mentioned almost nowhere, but where I find myself, I find myself condemned. And how remarkable it is, you doctors and priests, that Dante pitied us when God did not. Dante said, 'It makes me heartsick only to think of them.' And Dante was right, I have always run in circles, futilely, looking for the warmth of bodies, scorned by God who created me, and all my life has been a desert and a rain of flakes of flame. Yes, I have read everything, looking for evidence that I exist, that I am a possibility. And do you know where I found myself? Do you know where I found out that I was, in another vanished world, beautiful and true? It was in the writings of a Greek.

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