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Saturday, 29 July, 2000, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Captain Corelli novel 'racist'
Author Luis de Bernieres
De Bernieres says his character is fictional
An Italian veteran regarded as the inspiration for the hero of the bestselling novel Captain Corelli's Mandolin has attacked the book as a smear on the Greek resistance.

Captain Amos Pampaloni, 89, whose wartime experiences bear remarkable similarities with the leading charcater in Louis de Berniere's book, has accused the author of racism and rewriting history.

To speak of the Greeks as barbarians, who killed for the sake of it, is pandering to racism

Capitan Amos Pampaloni

In an interview with the Guardian newspaper Pampaloni said the picture painted of Greek partisans fighting the Nazis was unacceptable.

"To speak of the Greeks as barbarians, who killed for the sake of it, is pandering to racism," he said.

De Bernieres' book, which has sold 1.5m copies, achieved worldwide recognition after Hugh Grant was seen reading it in the final scene of the film Notting Hill.

Film version

The tale of wartime Cephallonia is set to be a Hollywood blockbuster as filming is already underway on the Greek island with Nicolas Cage as Corelli and Spanish star Penelope Cruz.
Captain Corelli's Mandolin
The novel has sold 1.5m copies and is to be made into a film

The novel's account of the Greek resistance, portraying them as cowards and torturers, has angered locals in Cephallonia and across Greece.

The book also claims the Greek partisans refused to support the Italian battle with Nazi troops in September 1943, a fact disputed by Mr Pampaloni.

He insists the Cephallonian guerrillas did fight alongside the Italians.

No connection

The escapades of the war veteran, who now lives in Florence, were similar to the character's story.

He was a captain in the artillery regiment, married a local girl, and played a central role in the decision to attack the Germans and was shot and left for dead.

Other romances kindled during the invasion of the Greek islands have also prompted similarities with de Bernieres' novel.

But the author has denied Corelli was inspired by Pampaloni's experiences.

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