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Reviews Margaret Alexiou and Vassilis Lambropoulos, eds., The Text and its Margins: Post-Structuralist Approaches to Twentieth-Century Greek Literature . New York: Pella. 1985. Pp. 288 Cloth $25.00, paperback $12.00. Deconstruction looks to the unconverted like the art of climbing to the top of a tall tree, then sawing through the trunk just below your feet, while demonstrating with impeccably self-consistent logic that it is the tree, not you, that will fall. Rhetorical strategies derived from the writings on deconstruction of Derrida, Foucault and de Man, in six of this volume's nine articles, promote a powerful bid to change the terms in which the discourse of modern Greek studies is conducted . By the nature of the attempt they are to this extent beyond the reach of reasoned evaluation: the reviewer is presented with a polarized dilemma between tautology and rejection of the terms in which the discussion under review is cast. This dilemma the present reviewer makes no apology for passing on to the reader unresolved. Deconstructionist strategies apart, there is much to discuss and admire in this provocative and thought-provoking volume. Vassilis Lambropoulos reappraises the nature of literary history, first by making explicit the ideological aims and assumptions behind the authoritative History of Modern Greek Literature by Konstandinos Dimaras , and secondly by championing instead the model of "genealogy " according to Michel Foucault. The article situates Dimaras and his History very precisely in their cultural and ideological context and throws out telling practical instances of the forces governing the reception of an artistic work (successive rediscoveries/appropriation of Kalvos, the "marginalization" of such shadowy figures as Panas and Sarandaris). Gregory Jusdanis approaches the slightly metaphoricized "politics " of Cavafy's poetry through a close reading of two texts, one a poem and the other prose, suppressed by Cavafy during his lifetime. The model of the competitive struggle of discourses for domination, derived from Foucault, is adduced to make explicit an attitude dis159 160 Reviews cernible in these two texts, that artistic achievement and even the romantic notion of beauty are products of passing fashions. These findings are then extended to two further poems of Cavafy, and the title of one of them, Dinamosis ("Growing in Spirit"), acquires a new resonance in the context of the Foucauldian concept of power. Dimitris Dimiroulis combines a deconstructionist strategy with a close reading of a single poem by Seferis, "An Old Man on the River Bank," in order to demonstrate that the profession of a "humble art" and the stated desire to "speak simply" are themselves rhetorical tropes. He shows poignantly, in terms derived from de Man, how the paradise so often invoked by Seferis, in which language and its object are one and the same, must by virtue of the very rules which constitute it be forever a paradise lost. The "writerly" prose text, Would you Like to Dance, Maria? by Melpo Axioti is discussed by Maria Kakavoulia. The limitations of formalist and structuralist analyses of "classic" realist narrative are emphasized when questions such as "What happened?" and "Who is speaking?" are ironically applied to a text which sets out to subvert the conventions of realism; and it is persuasively shown that Would you Like to Dance, Maria? constitutes an invitation to the reader to join in a "dance" which turns out to be the endless game of signification. A rather different kind of "text" is considered by Michael Herzfeld who, writing as an anthropologist, re-examines the way in which "text" is traditionally separated from "context" and suggests how both together might be read, textually, as what he terms a "metatext ." Neither the text with which he begins (three rhyming distichs improvised by quarreling Cretan villagers) nor the context considered along with it (the narration by another villager of their quarrel) quite sustains the essay's larger theoretical assertions, elaborated more substantially in the author's recent book about the same Cretan village, The Poetics of Manhood. Last among the articles whose rhetorical strategy derives from deconstruction, Dimitris Tziovas' tropological approach to the dominant ideological discourse in Greece at the turn of the 20th century sets out to apply Hayden White's scheme of "master tropes" governing all...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 159-162
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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