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Reviews 165 Theotokás and Seféris and on the rise of a kind of populist aesthetic, which led to an interest in the work of Makriyánnis and Theóphilos. Tziovas's study is marked by a broad range of reference and a close re-examination of the original sources. Another positive aspect of his work is his willingness to discuss theoretical matters on both sociological and literary grounds. However it is in my view a serious omission to have ignored the views of Ramas, 'Ermonas, and Alexandres Papanastasiou, who were important precursors of the type of nationalism Tziovas sees as specific to the 1930s. On other occasions, he has not hesitated to go back in time in order to show the roots of his argument. Also in my view he has not paid enough attention to contemporary critics. Mario Vitti, for example, is only mentioned once and then on an issue irrelevant to his main thesis, although Vitti's work has been indisputably of fundamental importance for the study of the literary and intellectual activity of the 1930s, especially in relation to the role of the periodicals , upon which Tziovas relies so heavily. Some of Tziovas's general and theoretical comments seem to me to bear only slight relation to his argument. Examples are his reference to Paul de Man in the statement, "The more profound the rejection of the old the more we depend on it" (p. 20), or his own claim that the Greeks' nationalist biasas opposed to the West—stems from their lack of permanent institutions and of unified customs, with the exception of the Greek Church. Although these are potentially interesting comments, they need further elaboration to keep from being seen as random asides. Many of the codes of Greek social practice, in relation to the family, for example, have been stable for centuries, and religious customs penetrate every form of exchange in Greek society. CD. Gounelas University of Thessaloniki Yannis Ritsos, Repetitions, Testimonies, Parentheses. Trans. Edmund Keeley. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1991. Pp. xxviii + 238. $9.95. The Anglo-American poet Thorn Gunn recently noted "the twin vices of trivialization that in their different ways haunt the English and American poetry of our time: the use of anecdotal subject matter as an end in itself and of technical play as an end in itself." Greek poets of Ritsos's generation are— or, increasingly, were—faced with a different Scylla and Charybdis: on the one hand, over-reliance on mythology as sublimity, and, on the other, overreliance on mythology as ornament. Though neither of these approaches to myth need be trivial, either or both can become monotonously predictable and finally reductive. Yannis Ritsos died in 1990. The immense size of his poetic oeuvre makes it hard even for readers of Greek to grasp his career as a whole. Nevertheless, 166 Reviews and at the risk of oversimplification, there is in much of Ritsos's poetry a discernible alternation between these two approaches. Ritsos's accomplishment , as the present selection clearly shows, is to have avoided both the banality of merely retelling mythical tales and the superficiality of using a few mythical references to heighten the effect of an otherwise lackluster poem. In his weaker moments (and what poet, especially one so prolific, is without his weaker moments?), Ritsos fails to avoid these twin dangers; he can be limply lugubrious, as in some of the long dramatic monologues, or merely flip. But Edmund Keeley, a superb editor as well as an accomplished translator of this poet, has given us in Repetitions, Testimonies, Parentheses some of this versatile poet's most striking shorter pieces. Ritsos is most powerful and original when myth is his medium. Like any artist who through years of work has developed the distinctive approach to his or her medium that constitutes style, Ritsos is able to deploy his mythical language in ways that are characteristic and yet (or therefore) surprising. One such stylistic signature is the punchline-like deflationary ending of many poems; the intensity winds down, the focus shifts, an apparently irrelevant detail may obtrude. From dozens of possible examples three may be cited: Two dogs went with him. One of...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 165-167
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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