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254 Reviews sis on unilateral intervention rather than bilateral interaction. The debate continues. George M. Alexander Queens College, New York Stratis Myrivilis. Vasilis Arvanitis. Translated from the Greek by Pavlos Andronikos. Armidale, NSW, Australia: University of New England Publishing Unit, 1983. Pp. xi + 112. Australian $9.50. Teachers of modern Greek literature in the English-speaking world know the value of texts that are both annotated and translated. We do, of course, possess fine editions of the major contemporary poets, but materials for the novel are scarce, and even scarcer are teaching editions of short stories, which have the obvious pedagogical advantage of being more easily digestible by most of our students than is a three- or four-hundred page novel. Thus the pedagogical value of Myrivilis' novella—or long short story—Vasilis Arvanitis. Recognized as a perfect example of the rich, juicy idiom favored by the early twentieth-century pezográfi, who were trying to demonstrate that demotic could be a vehicle for the novel and short story as well as for poetry, this tale is of a length and linguistic complexity that intermediate students will find comfortable . Furthermore, because it perpetuates certain clichés about rural life in Greece—pallikariá, filótimo and the like—it will appeal to romantics while affording those who oppose such perpetuation an opportunity to object. Beyond this, Vasilis can be taught as a modernist text because Myrivilis gives an interesting twist to the hero's pallikariá and filótimo by making both gratuitous in the best Gidean sense, so that the protagonist becomes a kind of exotic Immoraliste on the eastern fringe of Europe. Best of all, the translation brings to completion an instructional "package." Andronikos' short but pithy Preface places the work not only in the context in which it was finished—the German occupation —but also in that of a legendary era before 1922, "a lost golden age when Greek and Turk lived together in mutual admiration and distrust." In addition, Andronikos points out the hubris that makes Vasilis a tragic hero who "rises to a peak of achievement, overreaches himself, and is brought low by fate and the gods. " Lastly, he Reviews 255 alerts us to the author's narrative technique, another modernistic element , claiming that Myrivilis makes "the narrator a prominent character who is as important as the hero himself. ' ' Aside from the Preface, we are given helpful notes explaining folk customs, expressions such as Kókkini Miliá, Turkish words, and historical figures or events invoked in the text. There is a summary of Myrivilis' career, and a bibliographical note that supplies data on the various editions of the work. All this comes as a welcome supplement to Mario Vitti's exemplary edition of the Greek text, published by Ermis in 1971. Vitti provides a much longer introduction, one that Andronikos takes issue with, implicitly, since Vitti does not see the narrator as a character in his own right, and views the novella primarily as a romantic retreat to an idealized past. But Vitti goes much further than Andronikos in identifying the folk elements appropriated by Myrivilis. One's disappointment at the absence of annotations to the Greek text is assuaged by Andronikos' notes. Taken together, Vitti's text and Andronikos' translation provide the most complete apparatus now available to us for a significant work of short fiction. This is not to say that Vasilis Arvanitis exists only to be studied in the classroom. On the contrary, it can still be enjoyed just as a good story, especially by readers prone to nostalgia. The ethos described is dated, the lush idiom of the Greek is out of fashion—yet the novella maintains its charm owing to what Vitti calls its "refreshing fairytale quality" and its "folk wisdom." The Greekless reader is well served by the translation, because Andronikos carefully eschews the overwriting of the original; his English is agreeably crisp, therefore closer to current taste than is Myrivilis' somewhat overblown Greek. For example, the translator is not afraid to reduce two Greek words to one in English: η μοίϕα του . . . στÎ-κεται και το καϕτεϕεί becomes simply "its fate . . . awaits it." Similarly, Myrivilis' outlandish metaphors are skillfully reduced on occasion without being lost: e.g., τα μάτια μου, χτυπημÎ-να απότομα από το ασημÎ-νια σπαθιά των μεσημεϕιών translates...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 254-256
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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