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Reviews Costas M. Proussis. Κώστας M. Πϕουσής, Έλληνες ποιητÎ-Ï‚ και πεζογϕάφοι. Athens: Estia. 1990. Pp. 416. 1,800 drachmas. Costas M. Proussis has been a student, critic, and advocate of modern Greek literature for a very long time. Born in Cyprus in 1911, a graduate of the University of Athens who earned a Ph.D. in classical philology from the University of Chicago, former honorary Consul of Cyprus in Boston, he has taught in Cyprus and in the United States, has edited Meléti KritikÃ-, Kipriaká Grámmata, among others, and has written for newspapers and journals in Cyprus, Athens, and America, in both Greek and English. He has published Porta Zots (Course of Life, 1975—a collection of essays), Mikri AgonÃ-a (A Small Struggle, 1980—a collection of short stories), and now a collection of critical essays ranging over the whole body of modern Greek poetry and prose. These essays date from 1935 to 1977 and are a very interesting record of one man's reading of modern Greek literature over a period of almost fifty years. Yet another volume is anticipated that will include the author's observations to date. Greek Poets and Prose Writers is a rich collection of essays by a literary critic whose love of and support for the demotic Greek language has been longstanding—even pioneering. The five sections of the collection are grouped primarily by authors. The first is concerned with Dionisios Solomos, to whom four essays (13-77) are dedicated that stress Solomos's concern for country, religion, love, and the universal theme of freedom. Proussis sees Solomos as a champion of demotic and a national poet, but also as the father of modern Greek prose and satire. The second section (81—139) clearly shows Proussis's love for RostÃ-s Palamás, in whom is recreated all of Greek history. Proussis cites Solomos's comment: "Enclose Greece in your heart and you will feel within you the yearning for every kind of grandeur" (84), which is what Proussis sees Palamás as doing. Ancient, Byzantine, and modern Greece are all blended triumphantly in the poetry of Palamás. Noteworthy, too, is Palam ás's praise of woman—woman as the source of life and beauty, as priestess of love and Muse who inspires and leads to great ideals, as Woman-Mother, as source of spiritual creation, woman as body and instinct, woman as Idea and heavenly Peace, woman as pure virgin. But most of all Palamas is seen as the poet of the Greek race because he is the conscience of the Greek people. The third section contains essays on Yánnis Gripáris, Andréas Kálvos, SotÃ-ris SkÃ-pis, Lámbros PorfÃ-ras, Kóstas Kariotákis, and NÃ-kos Kazantzákis. In Grypáris Proussis finds a creative intoxication, antimystical in attitude, that Journal of Modern Greek Studies, Volume 10, 1992. 145 146 Reviews tends toward an aristocratic form, brilliant and tranquil, although Grypáris himself saw his greatest contributions in translation, especially in the translation of all of Aeschylus into a modern Greek that was powerfully expressive and vibrant. Andréas Kálvos Proussis considers a great poet, separated from the mainstream of Greek literature, initially unsure of his own Greek but the greatest encomiast of freedom and virtue, and defender of democratic ideals. SotÃ-ris Skipis is briefly praised for his rich poetic construction, devoted to the courageous preservation of the people in highly adverse conditions. Lámbros PorfÃ-ras is presented briefly as describing that which is humble and unimportant with the grace and the gentle melancholy of a sensitive nostalgic individual. Kariotákis, despite his tragic nature and situation, is seen as a representative of his times who had a liberating influence on the course of modern Greek literature. The three essays on Kazantzákis ("On the Occasion of the Odyssey of NÃ-kos Kazantzákis"; "The Dramas of NÃ-kos Kazantzákis"; "The Kazantzákis 'Problem' ") are especially interesting because they were written so close to the time of Kazantzákis's own writing and show a remarkable understanding of Kazantzákis's own work that was not characteristic of Greeks of the time. Proussis sees Kazantz...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 145-147
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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