David Bowie’s Philhellenism



A great deal has been written this week about the late rock star David Bowie. This talented artist touched so many lives with his music, his art, and his life, it’s almost hard to imagine he is no longer among the living here on earth. His dramatic transformations throughout his career set the standard for all rock stars after him. Blackstar, his final album, was released on January 8, his 69th birthday, two days before his death. He will be missed. The fact that the well-read and well-travelled Bowie had some connections to Greece and Cyprus is not a surprise.

Among his top 100 books is the classic tale of the Trojan War, The Iliad by Homer. Bowie’s reading list is incredibly diverse, including Homer’s epic poem along with Dante’s Inferno, The Stranger by Albert Camus, and The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels. When asked in Vanity Fair magazine what happiness was, Bowie replied, “Reading.” The list of Bowie’s top 100 books, in no particular order, was posted on his official website on October 1, 2013. A selection from the list is included below.

He visited Cyprus with his first wife Angie during the early 1970s and commemorated the beautiful island in the song Move On, released in 1979 with the lyrics “Cyprus is my island/When the going’s rough/I would love to find you/Somewhere in a place like that.” Angie Bowie had actually been born on Cyprus and continued to visit the island with her and Bowie’s son, Duncan, after the couple divorced in 1980.

The fact that Bowie used a Greek newspaper to speed his way through the crowded streets of New York City highlights the inventive mind of this unique artist. Bowie and his wife, supermodel Iman, made New York their home in 1993, a year after their marriage. The intensely private Bowie would hold up a Greek newspaper and pretend to read to avoid attracting a crowd in public when getting out of a cab or taking the subway. Onlookers would imagine he was an average Greek who happened to resemble David Bowie. May he rest in peace.

Selected Works from David Bowie’s Top 100 Books

Interviews With Francis Bacon?by David Sylvester

Billy Liar?by Keith Waterhouse

Room At The Top?by John Braine

On Having No Head?by Douglass Harding

Kafka Was The Rage?by Anatole Broyard

A Clockwork Orange?by Anthony Burgess

City Of Night?by John Rechy

The Brief Wondrous Life Of Oscar Wao?by Junot Diaz

Madame Bovary?by Gustave Flaubert

Iliad?by Homer

As I Lay Dying?by William Faulkner

Tadanori Yokoo?by Tadanori Yokoo

Berlin Alexanderplatz?by Alfred Doblin

Inside The Whale And Other Essays?by George Orwell

Mr. Norris Changes Trains?by Christopher Isherwood

Halls Dictionary Of Subjects And Symbols In Art?by James A. Hall

David Bomberg?by Richard Cork

Blast?by Wyndham Lewis

Passing?by Nella Larson

Beyond The Brillo Box?by Arthur C. Danto

The Origin Of Consciousness In The Breakdown Of The Bicameral Mind?by Julian Jaynes

In Bluebeard’s Castle?by George Steiner

Hawksmoor?by Peter Ackroyd

The Divided Self?by R. D. Laing

The Stranger?by Albert Camus

Infants Of The Spring?by Wallace Thurman

The Quest For Christa T?by Christa Wolf

The Songlines?by Bruce Chitin

Nights At The Circus?by Angela Carter

The Master And Margarita?by Mikhail Bulgakov

The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark

Lolita?by Vladimir Nabokov

Herzog?by Saul Bellow

Puckoon?by Spike Milligan

Black Boy?by Richard Wright

The Great Gatsby?by F. Scott Fitzgerald


TORONTO – The Hellenic Initiative Canada New Leaders Speaker Series continues with Who Owns History? The Case for the Return of the Parthenon Marbles online on Thursday, March 24, 12 PM EDT.

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Mission, TNH’s New Travel Documentary Series with Clelia Charissis (Trailer)

Every weekend, TNH and Clelia Charissis are on a mission, traveling around Greece and the world to highlight places through the people we meet along the way.

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