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Vizyenos and his Characters William F. Wyatt In this article I shall be interested in the composition of the six major stories of George Vizyenos (1849-96) and the characters contained in them. The discussion will proceed first through a consideration of various confusions of sex and role and identity in the stories—a confusion which frequently enough in fact bespeaks a new identity of undifferentiated persons or concepts; next I shall consider the doubling of characters, which is in some ways the mirror image of the confusion of roles, in that it involves the splitting of a character already established. We will then be in a position to consider the role of the second narrator in those stories in which the main narrator's role is usurped by another, and the relation—if any—of the narrator(s) to Vizyenos himself. The major stories of Vizyenos are six in number My Mother's Sin ( = Sin) Who was my Brother's Killer? ( = Killer) Between Peiraeus and Naples ( = Naples) The Consequences of the Old Story ( = Consequences) The Only Journey of his Life ( = Journey) Moscóv-SelÃ-m ( = M-S) All were published in the journal Εστία in the years 1883-84, save for Moscov-Selim, which was published in the same journal in 1895, a year before the author's death and three years after he had been committed to the insane asylum at Dafni.1 All seem to have been written during much the same period, and though they cannot all have been contemporary, they were close enough in date that we can treat of them, as it were, as the six sections of a single work.2 MoscovSelim , though perhaps begun at this time, was not completed until 1886.3 In each story there is a narrator,4 usually unnamed, who recounts the events of the story, in many of which he was himself also a participant. Thus in Sin and Killer he is both narrator and son, while in Consequences and Moscov-Selim, he is relatively inactive, and the main interest of the story lies with others, others who either act 47 48 William F. Wyatt out their story for the narrator or tell it to him. The narrator is thus a viewer and listener rather than an actor. In Naples he reacts and at the end chooses not to act. In these stories the narrator functions both as a sounding-board for others and something of a negative to their positive pole. From another point of view he is an ideal audience, an audience that the author can control, in that he feels and reacts as Vizyenos might want his reader to react and feel. If we assume that the narrator of each story is the same person, we know a good deal about him, for in each story the narrator tells us a good deal about himself, and a biography of the man could be constructed . This biography would have the narrator born in a small Thracian town, in Constantinople as a young boy, a gymnasium student in Athens at a fairly mature age, one who studied philosophy in Germany, a poet who traveled to Paris, and a person of enough influence both to be invited to fashionable soirées in Athens and to be on familiar terms with the Patriarch Joachim II in Constantinople. If one wished in fact to write N's (the narrator's) biography, one would begin with Sin for the overall framework and would fill in the gaps by adding (in order): Sin—for early childhood, up perhaps to 10 Journey—for later childhood, perhaps around 13 Naples—for the age of about 22, in Constantinople5 Consequences—for the ages of 23-25, perhaps, in Athens & Germany Sin—in Constantinople at about the age of 306 Naples—on his way to Paris, perhaps about 29 or 307 Killer—mature, age unknown, but away from home in 1877; in Constantinople in 1880, and in Vizye in 1883.8 Moscov-Selim—a man of affairs, active at least in 1886 It will be observed that many of the stories involve both a passage of time—30 years with Sin—and some movement in space...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 47-63
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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