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Men vs. Women in The Third Wedding Kostas Kazazis "ÎŒ αλήτης ÏŒ γιος μου", της λÎ-ω, "είν'άντϕαςκιÎ-χειτσουτσουνα, κι ο,τι κάνει δÎ-ν τολμάει κανÎ-νας κεϕατάςνάτοΰπεικουβÎ-ντα.Τό Ίδιοείναιμιάγυναίκα;" What is so striking about the novel Τό τϕίτο στεφάνι,1 by Kostas Taktsis, is not so much that a male author has written a book in which the narrators are women, as that he has succeeded so well. The principal narrator, Nina, is totally convincing as a woman; and so is Hecuba, the novel's second narrator, in what is a story within a story and occupies almost one-third of the book. Hecuba is Nina's confidante and is about twenty years her senior. So, if Nina was born in 1901, as she says (172), then Hecuba must have been born in the 1880s. Nina eventually marries Hecuba's son Theodore, but that takes place after Hecuba's death. This is, incidentally, Nina's third marriage, her trtto stefâni. It should be emphasized that there is a great deal more to The Third Wedding than "men vs. women." In fact the novel is not even primarily about men-women relations, though naturally, to the extent that it is at all about relations among people, it deals also with how men and women cope with members of the opposite sex. Even so, there is ample material in this novel for the men-vs.-women sort of treatment which is the subject of this paper. Rather than try to read between the lines and possibly discover "interesting implications" and similar hidden treasures, I propose to stick closely to the text and concentrate on some observations made by Nina and Hecuba about alleged differences between men and women, particularly as far as their respective psychological make-ups are concerned. 'Athens, Ermis, 1974. Quotations and page numbers cited below are from the English translation by Leslie Finer (New York: Red Dust, 1971). 131 132 Kostas Kazazis Here are some of the relevant themes in the novel: women favoring their sons and grandsons at the expense of their daughters and granddaughters; the attachment of girls to their fathers; women as marriage breakers; that sex is more important to men than to women; the question of who should be boss in a household; whether it is men who are idealistic and women realistic or whether it is the other way around; and, of course, the double standard, both in sexual behavior and in other matters. In The Third Wedding, pronouncements on these themes are typically made in the form of generalizations. Yet that does not turn Nina and Hecuba into wooden figures. Both of them, along with the other characters in the novel, come out as uncannily real people, complete with occasional contradictions, which are usually based on different principles being invoked at different times, to suit the occasion. Now, most of the relevant generalizations in this novel sound familiar to us, and this not only because of what we know about modern Greek culture; for their domain extends—or extended until rather recently—to other European cultures as well, including the dominant cultures of North America. Could it be then that Nina and Hecuba are simply two typical Greek women of the urban middleclass variety? Maybe, though not necessarily. For, even if we assume for the sake of argument that there is such a thing as a typical Greek woman, there are still indications throughout the novel that at least Nina and possibly also Hecuba are in some respects quite different from the probably fictitious model of the "typical" Greek woman. For one thing, Nina is quite well-read and, largely thanks to the encouragement of her broad-minded father, has attended the Law School of the University of Athens—a rarity in the 1920s. Moreover, both women have extremely powerful personalities and are exceptionally strong-willed. Whether that in itself makes them less typical is, of course, questionable, since the apparent helplessness of many Greek women and their virtually total dependence on men (fathers, husbands , sons, brothers, brothers-in-law, friends' husbands, and so on ad infinitum) may very well be more role-playing than reality. What is important here is that, typical or not, both Nina and Hecuba are eminently believable Greek women. They say things which are mostly in harmony with the current...


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pp. 131-140
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