Fleeting patches of sunlight that decorate pieces of furniture, linger on book pages furtively as I read, or momentarily set the crema of my espresso aglow, are lovely indications that summer is gently slipping into the Philippine islands after a sunless wet season.
But why do I even dare write this in the face of a Liberaki who is an authority on sunshine? This Liberaki who does not merely write about it but makes it so tangible that one’s heart becomes dappled with sunlight, too?
There is a little bit of the Little Women in Liberaki’s three sisters in that it portrays in each sister how Woman can make different choices, pursue different interests, hold different priorities, think differently and still remain Woman; portrays how Woman can mean, or can be, “A great many things,” in the words of Alcott’s Jo March. Or as Liberaki’s Katerina replies, “Not just two, but thousands, Maria, or one which could be a thousand,” when Maria remarks on how Katerina seems to want to live two lives.
But Liberaki, daughter of Dionysus that she is, has a certain sensuality that Alcott did not make space for in her conservative depiction, although we love her just the same. This Liberaki sensuality is an elegant one, however, and treats female sexuality as part of life.
What made me pick this up for Women’s History Month was the curious case of an author who insisted on transliterating her name as Liberaki, rather than the more accurate Lymberaki, so that it would correspond to liberation. It is rare to come across an author’s name that already alludes to an untethered mind and sets the tone for a book. But how wonderful to discover that the same author has a command of artistic laws and lavishes attention to detail while creating an exquisite balance of light and shadow!
This sensitivity to art was what enthralled me! For what is sensitivity to art but a reinforced sensitivity to life?
“The sun has disappeared from books these days. That’s why they hinder our attempts to live, instead of helping us. But the secret is still kept in your country, passed on from one initiate to another. You are one of those who pass it on.” — Albert Camus to Margarita Liberaki
Three Summers was originally published in France through his recommendation.
4 thoughts on “Margarita Liberaki: Three Summers”
Another one of your beloved NYRB copies! This sounds like a gorgeous book. Probably needed after What Have you Left Behind. Im nearly done with Ismailov’s The Devils Dance. Really loving it!
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It is! I just know you will love this one! ❤
Thrilled to know that you're loving Devil's Dance! It's an intense initiation to Uzbek literature, but I wouldn't have it any other way!
I just finished it this morning! It was a tough one for me… took a long time as it was so intense and full of poetry I reread numerous times, but it was great! I am making 2024 the year of Uzbekistan no matter what! Nothing will stop me! It has to happen! X
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Yes! Yes! Yes! ❤