Durrell captures the raw effects of hard physical labour on the hands and feet of the peasants he met in Greece in the 1930s. We sometimes forget the physical hardship of past lives, even among the wealthier classes. Reading the journals of Dorothy Wordsworth, sister of the English poet, written around 1800, it is clear that even having a maid, she still did a lot of hard work baking, starching and ironing herself.
‘Hands and feet of the peasants: mere spades grown upon the members through a long battle with soil, ropes, and wood.’
Source: Lawrence Durrell, Prospero’s Cell, Faber & Faber 1970 (1945), p. 19
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