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Reviews 123 grading, or the number of graded steps in the presentation of the texts. Finally, seeing Greek culture and history through the eyes of "crazy Maria," the heroine, is perhaps not the best possible device for popularizing a work at this respectable level. At first, one does wonder. What could have induced the authors to adopt this device? But then one asks oneself, are Greek culture and history in any way accessible to those who have no good notion of what the cultural readings are evoking, or to what they are alluding? And in the end one has to admit that, exasperating though this device may be to some, it is unlikely that it will detract from the ordinary learner's appreciation of this work of scholarly popularization. In other words, the authors are intelligent and experienced professionals, their Demotic Greek II deserves every praise, and we all owe them our thanks and our congratulations. Anne Farmakides McGiIl University Nicholas Gage, Eleni. New York: Random House. 1983. Pp. 470. $16.95. This book rises to the heights of tragedy. No one can read the story of Eleni Gatzoyanni's harsh fate as told by her son, whose flight to safety from the Communists' pedomásoma helped to precipitate her trial and execution, without experiencing the authentic horror and fear that Aristotle declared to be the key to tragic catharsis. Yet Gage's story also descends to melodrama in telling how he played out his fantasies of revenge without actually doing more than spitting in the face of the man who had condemned Eleni to death. Those who lived through the Greek civil war are likely to be pained by Gage's unrelenting effort to uncover what happened and to explore the hates, hopes and fears of these times. Survivors like to forget their sufferings and systematically repress memories of their own acts of cruelty, betrayal, and toadying to authority. For as Thucydides said in another context: . . . war takes away the easy supply of daily wants, and so proves a rough master, that brings most men's characters to a level with their fortunes.... The ancient simplicity into which honor so largely entered was laughed down and disappeared; and society became divided 124 Reviews into camps in which no man trusted his fellow. (Ill, 82-83, Crawley trans.) Then, when the crisis has gone and daily wants become less imperious , greater generosity and forgiveness become possible once again. The easy way to reconciliation is forgetfulness, and most Greeks have in fact taken that path, as the book makes clear, (e.g., p. 446). But Nicholas Gage, obsessed by the memory of his mother's fate and his own involuntary share in it, was unwilling to bury the past in oblivion. Instead he took the harder path of trying to understand exactly what had happened in the Epirote village of Lia where he had been born in 1939 and which he left in 1949, fleeing from the threat of being sent to Albania with the other children of the community. It is arguable that by concentrating on the inter-personal level of events, seeking first and foremost to discover who had been responsible for his mother's death, the American newspaperman Gage missed some dimensions of the social transformation he portrays for us. Certainly he gives little attention to the liberation from constricted roles for women that Communist administration of the villages of northern Greece deliberately brought about. Instead he emphasizes the shock he and others felt at seeing young women in trousers carrying guns; and the distress his sisters felt when conscripted into the ranks of the andartinas. Class war is only hinted at, though those who contrived Eleni's execution presumably justified their cruelty by asserting that she was a class enemy, having a husband in America who provided her with the finest house in the village and the outlandish luxury of a brass bed. Problems of population pressure on local resources and the patterns of response to new communications links to the world outside— the two factors that I would most emphasize in seeking to understand what took place within Greek mountain villages during the disastrous decade, 1940...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 123-126
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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