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Reviews 149 In sum, Broumas is an excellent translator and interpreter of Elytis's poetry but is less satisfactory in the scholarly aspects of translation and critLucia Athanassaki University of Crete William F. Wyatt, Jr. Brown University Nanos Valaoritis, My Afterlife Guaranteed and Other Narratives. San Francisco: City Lights. 1990. Pp. 88. $6.95. In his new book, Nanos Valaoritis gathers prose poems written in various periods during the last forty years. The volume also includes many recent texts originally written in English. The purpose of the book is twofold: first, to revise certain aspects of nationalist modernism, and secondly, to radicalize Greek modernism by undermining continuity and tradition and deploying a dry and sterile language that lacks "nostalgia" and "charm." Valaoritis's revision primarily concerns the continuity and validity of tradition as expressed in the "myth of Greekness." In "Procrustes," for instance , Valaoritis "restores" the traditional myth, drawing his own conclusions. To Valaoritis, tradition is a "text" imposed upon us with its own grammar and logic from which we have to escape. Valaoritis wants to pierce this sacred character of tradition by continuous argumentation between Procrustes and Theseus and by the ambivalent and enigmatic explanations that are ironically exposed in an exemplary order and with argumentative lucidity. In "A Classical Education," he fiercely rejects his relation to the classical Greeks and especially Homer: "I now realize that I too like everyone else read Homer in vain. He taught me nothing. Plato was right. Poets are too immoral to be of any use for education" (13). Valaoritis takes an ironic view of the nostalgia of the past. To contemporary Greeks, the ancients represent an "interior occupation" of the modern peripheral community, acquired either by education ("A Classical Education") or transmitted to them by the West. In "Helen of Troy," the stolen statue of Helen, like the Elgin Marbles, travels through Hellas and Rome to the British Empire. The epic image is shattered within the consumer society, turning myths into mere tales. In "A New Poetic Movement ," the Iliad and the Odyssey merely represent objects for imitation. The "Intertextuals," a group of identical poets, imitate the two Greek epics word for word. Valaoritis employs a dry, spare language devoid of metaphors and other tropes. In "A Classical Education," the "breeding milk" represents a sterile tradition, a loss. Behind the flow of sentences, behind the ironically wellbalanced periods, the word-machines, the automatic images, and the anakoloutha of meaning, there is another interior language more invisible and 150 Reviews concealed, one characterized by gestures, noddings, and expressions. Bearing the signs of Valaoritis's struggle for identity, it is a language marked by occupation, sterility, loss, and endurance. Valaoritis is the poet of an indefinite longitude and latitude. His writing conveys several meanings. Sentences are hypnotic: these "imaginary sentences without words" that fuse one into another , keeping us between sleep and awakening, as, for instance, in the texts "a terrace is a man's only love" and "Borisofski's lair." In "How I Wrote Some of my Books" and "Simoon," writing becomes an asteroid infected by cosmic energy. I would like to suggest that not only this book but Valaoritis's entire oeuvre should be studied. It is time to reexamine the Greek avant garde. We must also study the work of other authors such as N. Kalas, A. Schinas, M. Aravantinou, Y. Makris, N. Stangos, P. Koutroubousis, P. Takopoulos, E. Vakalo, and A. Pagoulatos, to name a few. Such a study would enable us to view contemporary Greek literature from other perspectives, suggesting further theoretical complexities for the conception of a peripheral literature. Panayiotis Bosnakis The Ohio State University Nikos Kavadias, The Collected Poems ofNikos Kavadias. Translated by Gail Hoist Warhaft. Amsterdam: Adolf M. Hakkert. 1987. Pp. 256. $16.80. Cavafy's canon of 154 poems established him as a world-class poet. Kavadias's canon is but one-third of Cavafy's, yet the 53 short poems that comprise his life work, because of their brilliance, variety, and, at the same time, their unmistakable sameness as cumulative projections of a fascinating personality, establish him, too, as a poet who deserves to be appreciated everywhere. Previously, we had just a handful of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 149-150
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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