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Kazantzakis, Volume 2

Politics of the Spirit

Peter Bien

Putting Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis's vast output into the context of his lifelong spiritual quest and the turbulent politics of twentieth-century Greece, Peter Bien argues that Kazantzakis was a deeply flawed genius--not always artistically successful, but a remarkable figure by any standard. This is the second and final volume of Bien's definitive and monumental biography of Kazantzakis (1883-1957). It covers his life after 1938, the period in which he wrote Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation of Christ, the novels that brought him his greatest fame.

A demonically productive novelist, poet, playwright, travel writer, autobiographer, and translator, Kazantzakis was one of the most important Greek writers of the twentieth century and the only one to achieve international recognition as a novelist. But Kazantzakis's writings were just one aspect of an obsessive struggle with religious, political, and intellectual problems. In the 1940s and 1950s, a period that included the Greek civil war and its aftermath, Kazantzakis continued this engagement with undiminished energy, despite every obstacle, producing in his final years novels that have become world classics.

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The Muslim Bonaparte

Diplomacy and Orientalism in Ali Pasha's Greece

K. E. Fleming

Ali Pasha of Ioannina (?1750-1822), the Ottoman-appointed governor of the northern mainland of Greece, was a towering figure in Ottoman, Greek, and European history. Based on an array of literatures, paintings, and musical scores, this is the first English-language critical biography about him in recent decades. K. E. Fleming shows that the British and French diplomatic experience of Ali was at odds with the "orientalist" literatures that he inspired. Dubbed by Byron the "Muslim Bonaparte," Ali enjoyed a position of diplomatic strength in the eastern Adriatic; in his attempt to secede from the Ottoman state, he cleverly took advantage of the diplomatic relations of Britain, Russia, France, and Venice. As he reached the peak of his powers, however, European accounts of him portrayed him in ever more "orientalist" terms--as irrational, despotic, cruel, and undependable.

Fleming focuses on the tension between these two experiences of Ali--the diplomatic and the cultural. She also places the history of modern Greece in the context of European history, as well as that of Ottoman decline, and demonstrates the ways in which contemporary European visions of Greece, particularly those generated by Romanticist philhellenism, contributed to a unique form of "orientalism" in the south Balkans. Greece, a territory never formally colonized by Western Europe, was subject instead to a surrogate form of colonial control--one in which the country's history and culture, rather than its actual land, was annexed, invaded, and colonized.

Originally published in 1999.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Notes from the Balkans

Locating Marginality and Ambiguity on the Greek-Albanian Border

Sarah F. Green

Maps and borders notwithstanding, some places are best described as "gaps"--places with repeatedly contested boundaries that are wedged in between other places that have clear boundaries. This book explores an iconic example of this in the contemporary Western imagination: the Balkans. Drawing on richly detailed ethnographic research around the Greek-Albanian border, Sarah Green focuses her groundbreaking analysis on the ambiguities of never quite resolving where or what places are. One consequence for some Greek peoples in this border area is a seeming lack of distinction--but in a distinctly "Balkan" way. In gaps (which are never empty), marginality is, in contrast with conventional understandings, not a matter of difference and separation--it is a lack thereof.

Notes from the Balkans represents the first ethnographic approach to exploring "the Balkans" as an ideological concept. Green argues that, rather than representing a tension between "West" and "East," the Balkans makes such oppositions ambiguous. This kind of marginality means that such places and peoples can hardly engage with "multiculturalism." Moreover, the region's ambiguity threatens clear, modernist distinctions. The violence so closely associated with the region can therefore be seen as part of continual attempts to resolve the ambiguities by imposing fixed separations. And every time this fails, the region is once again defined as a place that will continually proliferate such dangerous ambiguity, and could spread it somewhere else.

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The Selected Letters of Nikos Kazantzakis

Nikos Kazantzakis

The life of Nikos Kazantzakis--the author of Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation of Christ--was as colorful and eventful as his fiction. And nowhere is his life revealed more fully or surprisingly than in his letters. Edited and translated by Kazantzakis scholar Peter Bien, this is the most comprehensive selection of Kazantzakis's letters in any language.

One of the most important Greek writers of the twentieth century, Kazantzakis (1883-1957) participated in or witnessed some of the most extraordinary events of his times, including both world wars and the Spanish and Greek civil wars. As a foreign correspondent, an official in several Greek governments, and a political and artistic exile, he led a relentlessly nomadic existence, living in France, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Soviet Union, and England. He visited the Versailles Peace Conference, attended the tenth-anniversary celebration of the Bolshevik Revolution, interviewed Mussolini and Franco, and briefly served as a Greek cabinet minister--all the while producing a stream of novels, poems, plays, travel writing, autobiography, and translations. The letters collected here touch on almost every aspect of Kazantzakis's rich and tumultuous life, and show the genius of a man who was deeply attuned to the artistic, intellectual, and political events of his times.

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A Shared World

Christians and Muslims in the Early Modern Mediterranean

Molly Greene

Here Molly Greene moves beyond the hostile "Christian" versus "Muslim" divide that has colored many historical interpretations of the early modern Mediterranean, and reveals a society with a far richer set of cultural and social dynamics. She focuses on Crete, which the Ottoman Empire wrested from Venetian control in 1669. Historians of Europe have traditionally viewed the victory as a watershed, the final step in the Muslim conquest of the eastern Mediterranean and the obliteration of Crete's thriving Latin-based culture. But to what extent did the conquest actually change life on Crete? Greene brings a new perspective to bear on this episode, and on the eastern Mediterranean in general. She argues that no sharp divide separated the Venetian and Ottoman eras because the Cretans were already part of a world where Latin Christians, Muslims, and Eastern Orthodox Christians had been intermingling for several centuries, particularly in the area of commerce.

Greene also notes that the Ottoman conquest of Crete represented not only the extension of Muslim rule to an island that once belonged to a Christian power, but also the strengthening of Eastern Orthodoxy at the expense of Latin Christianity, and ultimately the Orthodox reconquest of the eastern Mediterranean. Greene concludes that despite their religious differences, both the Venetian Republic and the Ottoman Empire represented the ancien régime in the Mediterranean, which accounts for numerous similarities between Venetian and Ottoman Crete. The true push for change in the region would come later from Northern Europe.

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Venom in Verse

Aristophanes in Modern Greece

Gonda A.H. Van Steen

Aristophanes has enjoyed a conspicuous revival in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Greece. Here, Gonda Van Steen provides the first critical analysis of the role of the classical Athenian playwright in modern Greek culture, explaining how the sociopolitical "venom" of Aristophanes' verses remains relevant and appealing to modern Greek audiences. Deriding or challenging well-known figures and conservative values, Aristophanes' comedies transgress authority and continue to speak to many social groups in Greece who have found in him a witty, pointed, and accessible champion from their "native" tradition.

The book addresses the broader issues reflected in the poet's revival: political and linguistic nationalism, literary and cultural authenticity versus creativity, censorship, and social strife. Van Steen's discussion ranges from attitudes toward Aristophanes before and during Greece's War of Independence in the 1820s to those during the Cold War, from feminist debates to the significance of the popular music integrated into comic revival productions, from the havoc transvestite adaptations wreaked on gender roles to the political protest symbolized by Karolos Koun's directorial choices.

Crossing boundaries of classical philology, critical theory, and performance studies, the book encourages us to reassess Aristophanes' comedies as both play-acts and modern methods of communication. Van Steen uses material never before accessible in English as she proves that Aristophanes remains Greece's immortal comic genius and political voice.

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