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Reviews 119 by the fear not to lose political power rather than by dreaming the impossible things, which are also the best . . . ." (229). Nevertheless , by 1910, both men must have sensed that their ideology was out of tune with the developing political realities. Despite its many shortcomings, the material of the diary has some value for specialists of this historical period. It provides illuminating vignettes rarely encountered in a political history and, certainly , contains rich material for the intellectual history of the preWorld War I era in Greece. A. Lily Macrakis Regis College Christos S. Romanos, Poetics of a Fictional Historian. New York: Peter Lang (American University Studies, Series III Comparative Literature, Vol. 7). 1985. Pp. 267. Price not stated. This book sets itself several aims. The first half attempts a theoretical justification and explication of the definition of the novelist given in the title, while the remainder focusses on modern Greek literature and the six novels of Aléksandros Kotziás whose stories cover the Greek historical experience between 1944 and 1974. The connection between the two parts is effected by the avowed, if not very specific aim, "to elaborate on the present scope of comparative literary study and allow for 'secondary' literatures to be studied in a literary context which is not a superficial taxonomy" (p. 11). The theoretical discussion gives equal weight to what are termed, respectively, the author-function and the reading experience . Welcome extensions to the well-trodden ground of relevant theoretical debate are provided by reference to T. S. Eliot's insistence on the "extinction of [the author's] personality" and by comparative discussion of oral epic as analysed by Albert Lord. Although the opportunities for bringing "oral literature" into closer relationship with the literary canon, afforded by comparison of Lord's analysis with Foucault's "What is an author?", are missed, an interesting analogy is drawn between the role of the oral singer and that of the reader of a literary text. The manner in which the discussion is conducted, however, is not very satisfactory. Bald assertions ("the novelist is a fictional historian ," several times repeated) are only indirectly supported by quotation from relevant theoretical authorities followed in each case 120 Reviews by commentary/exegesis, and although a certain kind of synthesis is explicitly intended, and at the intuitive level to a degree achieved, the essential relationship of author-function and reading experience to the "historical process" is asserted and implied rather than demonstrated . The whole discussion is further marred by an insistence on invoking the synchronic/diachronic polarity throughout, in a way whose function seems almost incantatory and leaves one wondering whether the terms have been fully understood (pp. 12, 18, 35, 53, 74, 78). There follows a chapter on the ' ' Rise and History of the Greek Novel," in which the theoretical pretensions of the first half of the book have been dropped. This subject has never had a full-scale study, and it is quite reasonably no part of Romanos' purpose to offer anything so ambitious here. But even on a limited scale this chapter fails to do justice to its theme. No mention is made of narrative prose before 1850; ethography is arbitrarily equated with social realism, with incongruous results when the label is applied to Thános Vlékas (1855); the exclusion of the short story (nowhere explained) leads to a one-sided presentation of Papadiamándis and the inexcusable omission of Vizyinós. On the 20th century, the characterization of the postwar novel as "neorealist" is apt and based on solid arguments , but the claim that "the Greek novelists resisted the impact of Modernism that swept throughout Europe" (p. 132) is simply willful . Not a word is said of SkarÃ-mbas, Aksióti, Kseflúdas or Pentzikis, to say nothing of Seferis' posthumous novel or the impact of Surrealism . The book's most substantial contribution is to be found in its long final chapter, in which the cap of fictional historian is shown without much difficulty to fit the doyen of post-war Greek ' ' Neorealism ," Aléksandros Kotziás. The narrative structures, presentation of narrator and characters, and "transtextual" relationship of the six novels are examined with broad...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 119-121
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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