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Title Details:
Greek Literature in the 1940s
Authors: Kastrinaki, Angela
Reviewer: Daskala, Evangelia
Civil War
World War Ii
Lyrical Prose
Womens Literature
Literature Of Resistence
Literature Of Escape
Literature Of Exile
December 1944
Icon Of Germans
Historical Novel
Literature Of Engagement
This book examines literature and, more broadly, culture in Greece during the Second World War, the Occupation, the Resistance, and the Civil War. Literature during this period of extremes is closely connected with history, politics, society, and to understand it, we must attempt to reconstruct a comprehensive framework, from the material conditions of life to the psychology of people. The main outcome of the study, regarding the period of the Occupation, relates to its two distinct phases. In the first phase, until the end of 1942, there is a significant flourishing of book production, a euphoria among writers for the new readers, and simultaneously a tendency to distance themselves from current events, a turn towards the "eternal" and towards an art independent of conditions, sometimes bordering on estheticism. Writers compensate for the gloomy reality with various "escapes": towards childhood, for example, or towards warm sunny islands. The symbol of the island is very characteristic of this first phase of the Occupation, while the dominant narrative genre is the "lyrical prose," a symbolic and introspective art. These phenomena have little to do with censorship, which did exist but was rather lax. Behaviors can be explained by defeatism, withdrawal into the inner world, the desire for solitude, something often observed after defeats. For this reason, as soon as it became apparent that victory was turning towards the Allies, in early 1943, these phenomena change. Patriotism is revived, the themes change, and poets turn from the "islands" of voluntary isolation to the "city". Nevertheless, the shift is not absolute: many writers continue until the end of the Occupation to produce introspective lyricism. There are also "dual behaviors": militancy in some areas of life and a "carefree" attitude in art, indicating that literature during this period is primarily called upon to play a role of calmness and consolation. At the end of the Occupation, there emerges a demand for an entirely different art, one that would abandon individual problems and give attention to the totality, in an epic manner. This demand is universal, spanning across the entire political spectrum. Characteristically, however, the Left, being predominant at the time, is much less insistent in its demands, accepting all artistic currents and tendencies. In the days leading up to the Liberation, the expectation for a total change of the world is particularly strong, expressed, among other ways, through the symbol of the journey. For the first time in Greek literature, the dominant motif becomes not fleeing, but enthusiastic departure for new discoveries: a rejection of "Ithaca" and boring everyday life. The Liberation quickly disproves optimism, as it begins with the extremely violent conflict of the Civil War for a month (the so-called December events). However, in the realm of literature, the Left remains predominant, producing fiery texts about the December events. In 1945, there are violent confrontations regarding the relationship between art and society, involving prominent intellectuals; there is also a dispute over "national" values. Beneath the confrontations, however, we can discern convergences: the Left tends to abandon extreme militancy in favor of an art that respects the aesthetic terms of its existence, while simultaneously (and conversely) liberals tend to adopt, through "responsibility," a kind of militancy. Additionally, the Left relatively quickly abandons "resistance art," while liberals programmatically engage in "national" art. Themes are sometimes shared between factions, but common are also the artistic methods: the demand for "simplicity" prevails. The study follows post-war production by genre categories, which partly tend to coincide with themes: poetry particularly deals with the dead of the war, short stories with snapshots of the Occupation, while the novel deals with the Albanian war or with national history, primarily the Ottoman rule. Other themes include adolescence or the Bildungsroman. The latter, an individualistic genre, is cultivated especially by women, who, through the experience of war and resistance, find themselves in a new phase of self-discovery and identity. There is also a characteristic trend towards a return to the countryside and the life of the province, a new “etude de moeurs”: the urban openness of the 1930s is significantly restricted. At the same time, however, new currents enter Greece, where intellectuals, after the experience of the World War, feel they are participating in a culture that tends towards "globalization". Thus, existentialism, particularly Sartre's (almost always negatively), is especially debated, while English and American literature steadily gain ground. The end of the Liberation marks the exhaustion of the era by the late 1947. People are weary and disappointed. The new symbol expressing the era is the 'return.' In contrast to the travel passion of 1943-1946, now we encounter various versions of 'return': return to the Past, to love, to the land, to nature (away from people), or - from a different perspective - to the miserable reality. At the same time, collective life ceases to be unified. A gap opens between those who continue to participate in History, fighting in the mountains (in one or the other army) or displaced to remote islands, and those who now live completely normally, in a world that begins to forget the war and the hardships of the past. Art, too, is divided: part of it is liberated from the 'era', while another part is in absolute dependence. The imprisoned and displaced leftist poets continue to produce poetry incessantly, as a means of survival, while simultaneously questioning the usefulness of art in an era of extreme human suffering. However, there are many who remain silent, mainly those who have left Greece for abroad. The characteristic preoccupation of the entire decade, whether art can render reality, whether it is worth writing at all, or whether one has the right to aestheticize horror, culminates in 1950, tending towards a negative answer. Furthermore, the circulation of books presents a great decline during this time, which, after the surge of the Occupation, discourages artists. Only very few are fortunate enough to have their work spread outside Greece, in a world experiencing an increasingly rapid circulation of works and ideas. The book also includes a separate section on women's literature: "Women Writers 1940-1950. The Journey of Freedom". The history of female production has a peculiarity compared to the male. Women during this period make a significant transition from the private to the public sphere, mainly due to the Resistance. A new consciousness is born, along with an entirely new self-confidence. The thematic change in 1943 is impressive: from the pre-war woman-victim, who constantly suffers abandonment by men, there is a change towards a woman who takes life into her own hands and even tends to reject marriage. Women writers now write extensive novels or poems -sometimes of epic proportions- showing a particular passion for life. The motif of travel, dominant in many works, symbolizes a tendency to break free from norms and traditions. At times, however, the more conservative motif of trees develops, while a conservative -both politically and personally- female author prefers the "land" over the "sea". During this time, an epic travel novel is also written, which, although it does not address issues of women's liberation, represents a step towards equality. This liberating momentum also diminishes towards the end of the decade.
Linguistic Editors: Apostoli, Persia
Technical Editors: Miaoulis, Panagiotis
Graphic Editors: Miaoulis, Panagiotis
Type: Undergraduate textbook
Creation Date: 15-10-2015
Item Details:
ISBN 978-960-603-023-9
License: Attribution - NonCommercial - ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0)
Bibliographic Reference: Kastrinaki, A. (2015). Greek Literature in the 1940s [Undergraduate textbook]. Kallipos, Open Academic Editions.
Language: Greek
Consists of:
1. The War. When all artists work for the same cause
2. Η ήττα
3. Ανάκαμψη και Αντίσταση
4. Η Απελευθέρωση
5. Η πρώτη μεταπολεμική παραγωγή
6. Το τέλος
7. Επίμετρο: Γυναίκες συγγραφείς 1940-1950: Το ταξίδι της ελευθερίας
8. Θέματα και ρεύματα
9. Οι σχέσεις με τους αντιπάλους
10. Απόπειρα ερμηνείας
11. Τέλος Κατοχής, νέες απαιτήσεις
12. 1945: Ανιχνεύοντας το μέλλον
13. 1945: Σφοδρές διαμάχες - Λανθάνουσες συγκλίσεις
14. Ένοπλα χρόνια
15. Literature in the 1940s and 1950s: Introduction
Number of pages 216
Publication Origin: Kallipos, Open Academic Editions
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