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European Influences on the Greek Novel During the 1930s Peter Mackridge In Greek prose fiction, as in Greek poetry, the years around 1930 saw a radical change in orientation which affected both themes and techniques. A group of writers, known even before the end of the 1930s as the "Generation of 1930," attempted to bring about a thorough renewal of Greek poetry and, in prose, particularly the Greek novel. One of their chief means of achieving this was to open themselves up to influences from the most recent literary developments in Europe. During the 1930s, Greek writers made a more conscious and concerted effort to align themselves with contemporary European literature than possibly at any other time in the history of the modern Greek state.1 The types of European influence which are apparent in Greek literature of the 1930s are manifold, as are the ways in which such influences were received. Starting with the broadest type of influence , one is struck by the extent to which the general cultural and ideological climate was affected by Europe (and particularly France). Greece had, after all, joined the Allies in 1917, thus sharing the experience of the Great War, which had such traumatic effects on Western Europe. Greece had also sent an expeditionary force to fight alongside the British and French in Russia in 1919. These were the first occasions on which Greece had fought side by side with European powers in wars which were only indirectly connected with its national liberation. The Greek Communist Party had been founded, owing undisguised allegiance to a foreign power. All these events were steps in the increasing "internationalization" (which included 1As far as fiction is concerned, during the 1920s the short story predominated over the novel both quantitatively and qualitatively. The same decade saw a large number of translations (their quantity is indicative of the taste of the time) from Russian and Scandinavian writers, particularly Dostoyevsky, Andreyev, Gorky, Hamsun and Geijerstam. By contrast, during the 1930s, a wider and more representative sample of European writers was translated into Greek, the orientation being , however, chiefly towards France and secondarily towards England. 2 Peter Mackridge Europeanization) of Greece, a trend which continued with the German Occupation, Greece's membership in NATO and, most recently , its entry into the EEC. For a long time before these events, however, most wealthy, educated Greeks looked towards Europe (and especially France) both ideologically and culturally, in contrast to the poor, many of whom looked towards America as an escape from their economic and social plight. The European orientation of the middle and upper classes was of course reinforced by Greece's economic dependence on the "Protecting Powers," particularly Britain and France. But Greece was brought physically closer to Europe (or to the rest of Europe) immediately after the First World War, when for the first time it became possible to travel by train all the way from Athens to the other countries of Europe, the rail link between Larisa and Salónica having been rendered feasible by Greek territorial gains in Macedonia in 1912-1913. This iron link with Europe meant that one could travel, for instance, from Athens to Paris in a couple of days instead of taking a boat from Piraeus to Marseilles, followed by a train from there to Paris. The late 1920s saw a fashion in prose fiction for a kind of cosmopolitanism , in which Greek or foreign characters would be depicted in European (usually Parisian) settings, or, alternatively, Greek characters would be shown in Greece aping foreign ways.2 Several Greek authors indulged in a superficial cosmopolitanism whose only aim was to excite, fascinate, and shock by descriptions of exotic mores and rich, nationless characters. Such authors, who wrote superficial short stories with titles such as "Garçon, éna whisky" (by Angelos Dóksas, 1932), are those whom Panayiotopulos stigmatizes as "ithográfus tu gin, tis jazz ke tu gigolo" (2:148). Gradually, however, during the 1930s, cosmopolitanism became assimilated into the novels of the younger generation without forming a significant part of them. Thus Karagátsis went so far as to create a foreign character as the central figure of each of his first three...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 1-20
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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