Gideon is one of several delightful, exasperating, original characters who became friends with Lawrence Durrell during the two years he spent in Rhodes after the war, when the British administered the island ostensibly to get it back on its feet. It was a magical place and time which Durrell describes in his spare, sparkling prose.
Here is Gideon’s definition of an Englishman, which according to another friend describes Gideon himself. I liked the curious combination of sensitive antennae, one of humour – which is open – and one of prejudice – which is closed.
‘Have you never heard Gideon’s own definition of an Englishman?’ he asked. ‘It fits him perfectly. An Englishman may be defined as a soft-centred creature with a tough and horny shell, through which two very sensitive antennae (humour and prejudice) explore the world around him.’
Source: Lawrence Durrell, Reflections on a Marine Venus (London: Faber & Faber, 1960), p. 127
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