My Family and Other Animals – Gerald Durrel

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BookClub: 25 de maig a les 19 h a la Biblioteca Mestra Maria Antònia.

FilmClub: 26 de maig a les 19 h a la Biblioteca Mestra Maria Antònia.

(Extracte del punt de lectura.)

About the book
The setting of this book is the beautiful picturesque Greek island of Corfu. A young Gerald Durrell and his somewhat eccentric family set off from cold, depressing England and arrive as if in a dream on the sunny island of Corfu. This island is a veritable treasure of animal life and olive groves. In the narrative, Gerald takes the reader on his explorations of the island. With him, the reader visits old islanders and shares in their bread and olive oil, finds a scorpion and the cure for its poison and even observes a women giving birth in a room where no males are allowed!
The book is interspersed with mention of Spiro, a family friend named after the patron saint of the island, as are many male islanders.
However, most emphasis is placed on the explorations of the author and his findings of animal life all over the island. As the story unfolds, the reader is introduced to various interesting animals and insects such as the Trapdoor spider, Quasimodo the pigeon and a scops owl which the author keeps in his bedroom during the day and lets out to hunt at night.
Most of these creatures are met with some contempt by the family, all except mother, who as mentioned previously has a most forgiving and patient nature. This provides a funny and interesting story as Larry with his head in the clouds, Leslie with his love of guns and Margo with her tendency to acne each in turn express their disgust, horror or occasionally, affection for the animals which Gerald keeps as pets.
The author
Gerald Durrell was born in Jamshedpur in India on January 7th, 1925. His father died when he was a child. My Family and Other Animals is his account of the five years his family spent living on the Greek island of Corfu in the 1930’s. He was fascinated by natural history as a boy, as is readily apparent from the book. He started keeping creepy-crawlies in matchboxes when he was two years old, and when he was six he told his mother that he intended to own a zoo, and that he would give her a cottage in the grounds to live in.
He got a job as a keeper at Whipsnade Zoo in 1945, then frittered away an inheritance on animals. But the success of My Family and Other Animals meant that, three years after it was published, he achieved his lifetime’s ambition and opened his own zoo (to keep and breed animals threatened with extinction) on Jersey. Gerald Durrell died in 1995 but Jersey Zoo, and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust live on.
The family moved to the Greek island of Corfu in 1935, where Durrell began to collect and keep the local fauna as pets. The family stayed until 1939. Durrell was home-schooled during this time by various family friends and private tutors, mostly friends of his eldest brother Lawrence (later a famous novelist). One of Durrell’s tutor’s friend, the Greek doctor, scientist, poet, and philosopher Theodore Stephanides, became Durrell’s greatest friend and mentor, and his ideas left a lasting impression on the young naturalist. Together, they examined Corfu fauna, which Durrell housed in everything from test tubes to bathtubs.
The Film
  • Sheree Folkson
  • Eugene Simon as Gerald Durrell
  • Imelda Staunton as Mother
  • Chris Langham as Theodore Stephanides
  • Omid Djalili as Spiro
  • Matthew Goode as Larry Durrell
  • Russell Tovey as Leslie Durrell
  • Tamzin Merchant as Margo Durrell
  • Alexander Armstrong as Narrator/Adult Gerry (Voice Over)

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