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Reviews 125 Niki Watts, The Greek Folksongs. Studies in Modern Greek Literature. New Rochelle, NY: Aristide D. Caratzas. 1988. Pp. 104. $25.00 cloth, $14.00 paper. The series preface of Niki Watts' little book says that it is designed to be used by students in Great Britain studying for GCE Ά' level modern Greek and undergraduates in Great Britain, Australia, and the United States. It is divided into two parts: In Part I, Watts gives a very brief background of the folk song tradition of Greece, organized into short sections covering oral/literary tradition, political verse, imagery and function, origins, formulas, singers, and finally, the "decline of the tradition." Part II consists of an analysis of the songs themselves, which the author has divided according to N. G. Politis' categories of "akritic," "kleftic," "paraloges," "lullabies," "wedding songs," "laments," "songs of ksenitiá," and "love songs." The bibliography is useful, although it occasionally provides incomplete references and omits several important works, including the collection of demotic songs with tunes edited by D. A. Petropoulos (1959), Ilias Petropoulos' collection of rembetika songs (1978) and M. Herzfeld's Anthropology Through the Looking-Glass (1987), which discusses anthropology and folkloristics in Greece with much attention paid to the Digenis Akritas material. A book like Watts' could have been an exciting vehicle through which the student of modern Greek might learn about the history of folkloristics in Greece and gain linguistic and cultural insight through the study of traditional song. Unfortunately, college teachers will be disappointed in the author's over-simplification and rather hasty treatment of such a complicated and important subject. First, Watts inadequately defines important terms and concepts. She uses hotly debated terms like "folk" and "popular" interchangeably , and defines parahges simply as "ballads," without defining what a "ballad" is (if that can be done) or mentioning that this particular term is a purely scholarly one. Second, the author does not sufficiently reference her information; there is no index and no translation or vocabulary for the excerpts from the Greek songs. Third, and this is perhaps the greatest weakness of the work, the book lacks even one complete song text. The author uses only brief passages of songs and these are taken exclusively from Politis' Eklogai (1975), without any critical evaluation of that collector's own agenda. Since Greek folk song is song, any introductory study should include a discussion, however brief, of melody and singing style. But Watts leaves out any mention of tune or melody. Although there is a paragraph on "political verse" {decapentasyllabos), and some attention is paid to rhyming couplets, the author devotes too little space to music 126 Reviews (pp. 16—17) and does not provide pictures of instruments. The description of "mode" is also incomplete—the reader is not helped to imagine what a song sounds like. A discography would have filled these gaps, especially some reference to the wonderful series of Greek folk song recordings produced by the Society for the Dissemination of National Music (Athens). The reader will appreciate Watts' unbiased, cross-cultural approach to the material. Her analysis of songs in Part II, albeit brief, does whet the appetite. Especially interesting is Watts' discussion of women, both as singers of folk song and as portrayed within the folk narrative. The discussion of songs about ksenitiá invites the student to investigate further. An overview such as this one will provide the student of modern Greek with a sorely needed basic text in folk and oral traditions. If used in the American college classroom, however, it should be supplemented with a variety of other materials, including sound recordings . Nancy Sultan Harvard University Ioannis lonas, La Maison rurale de Chypre (XVIHe-XXe siècle), aspects et technique de construction. Nicosia: Publications of the Scientific Research Centre. No. 12. 1988. Pp. 228 + 200 photographs. Cyprus £14. This impressive book provides splendid documentation and a thoughtful analysis of the technical side of rural houses in Cyprus. It is based on site visits to over 200 villages in the Greek-controlled "south" of Cyprus. Although its analysis of historical and folkloric sources makes passing mention of Turkish Cypriots and features of their customary life, the author devotes no systematic attention...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 125-126
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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