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So Long Marianne

Leonard Cohen in 1960, with Marianne Ihlen on Hydra in Greece. -James Burke, NYTimes

Audrey Thomas isn’t the only Canadian writer to have spent time in Greece. I almost called today’s post “resurrection man” because he resurrected his career, but I didn’t because something else I’m working on  makes it quite clear that resurrection man is not a flattering thing to call someone. As anyone who reads the papers already knows, Leonard Cohen came out of retirement because his savings had disappeared. Once he started writing songs and touring again, he found that he was enjoying himself. Ok, so maybe his voice is not what it was, but there is something pleasurable about having these late gifts from someone who had absented himself from our lives.

The title of this post is the last line of a poem that appears at the front of Cohen’s 1963 novel, dedicated to his mother [are my notes right?]: The Favourite Game.

There is a lot of information to be had about Cohen the songster, so I thought I’d look at The Favourite Game, which is about a young man from Montreal who spends time in New York City and at a children’s camp in Quebec. Here is a quotation from Breavman’s time in New York:

“He was relieved that it wasn’t his city and he didn’t have to record its ugly magnificence.  He walked on whatever streets he wanted and he didn’t have to put their names in stories. New York had already been sung. And by great voices. This freed him to stare and taste at will.”

There it is, one of the reasons writers leave home — to be freed.

There is also much information available about his early life, and someone has compiled and added to it already. That’s right, the book you’ve bought someone for Christmas: I’m Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen by Sylvie Simmons.

In Montreal, Cohen studied at McGill, where he started writing poetry and also wrote fiction. Then he made his way to London, and in 1960, went from London to Hydra, a Greek island that was already home to writers and artists. I think we might be visiting Leonard Cohen again in these pages.

What other Canadian writers spent time in Greece?

Français : Le chanteur canadien Leonard Cohen ...

Français : Le chanteur canadien Leonard Cohen à Trouville-sur-Mer (Normandie, France) le 26 janvier 1988. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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