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Reviews Vangelis Athanasopoulos. ΒαγγÎ-λης Αθανασόπουλος, Ot μϕθοι της ζωής και του Î-ϕγου του Γ. Βιζυηνοϕ. ΔοκιμÎ-Ï‚ εϕμηνείας και κϕιτικής. Athens: Kardamitsa. 1992. Pp. 524. 4160 drachmas. Διαβάζω, no. 278. 8 January 1992. ΑφιÎ-ϕωμα στον Γ. Βιζυηνό. Pp. 80. Adianasopoulos's substantial volume, the fourth in a series of interpretative and critical studies on modern Greek literature by die same autiior, provides a readable guide to die enigmatic life and work of Georgios Vizyenos. Packed with bio-bibliographical information garnered largely from earlier studies and littleknown published sources, and here presented for the first time to the general reader, it signals a welcome resurgence of interest in Vizyenos, and the beginnings of a critical reappraisal of his significance in modern Greek letters, for it is surely not coincidental that die periodical Διαβάζω also chose to mark 1992 with a special commemorative issue on the centenary of Vizyenos's consignment to die insane asylum of Dromokaiteion in Daphni. The major advantage of Adianasopoulos's book is that it brings togedier in an engaging manner die life and work, poetry and prose of one of Greece's most talented writers. Athanasopoulos quotes copiously from stories, poems, letters, and other sources, so that the reader is drawn into, and carried along by, the eternal puzzle of "Georgios Vizyenos." In the first section (1-174), Athanasopoulos takes us dirough die details of Vizyenos's short but troubled life, and sets out his major thesis: that the unifying "myth of double reality and of double truth" lies at the heart of both die life and the work (174). Section II (175-279) examines die "dimension between sex and gender" in the stories, with particular reference to "The Only Journey of His Life" and "Moskov-Selim." Sections III to IV (279-351) offer significant réévaluations of two stories, "The Consequences of die Old Story" and "In Between Piraeus and Naples," which, it is argued, have been underestimated or misconstrued. Section V (355-411) provides an andiology of the poet's "erotic despair," and here some key differences between Vizyenos's poetic and fictional voices emerge widi striking clarity. The sixdi and final section (412-505) examines, in prose and poetry alike, the theme of childhood as a lost Utopia. The volume concludes with a useful chronological summary and a bibliographical guide. It is well annotated throughout—aldiough, regrettably, mere is no index. The story of Vizyenos's life as told by Athanasopoulos does indeed read like a novel. Yet I wonder whether it proves quite as unifying a "mytii" as Athanasopoulos implies. To make my point, radier than enumerate diose episodes of his life—and they are many—that will be familiar to all readers of his Journal of Modern Greek Studies, Volume 13, 1995. 351 352 Reviews stories, I shall single out four that are strikingly absent, or different, from his stories, aldiough formative for much of his poetry. (1) Vizyenos's release from apprenticeship to a tailor's establishment in Istanbul, and his subsequent early steps to education, were effected not by the arrival of the mysterious Thymios announcing the imminent deadi of his beloved grandfather (as in "The Only Journey of His Life"), but by the death of his tyrannical master. Thereafter, a kindly Cypriot merchant, Yiankos Georgadis, arranged for die boy's transfer to Nicosia, Cyprus, for religious training under the guidance of Georgadis's friend, Archbishop Sophronios I of Cyprus. During his five-year stay in Cyprus (18671872 ), Vizyenos managed to antagonize his patron by interspersing his studies widi erode escapades, leading to his betrodial to the 14-year-old Eleni Physentzidi, who inspired his first poetic compositions. Suddenly called away on ecclesiastical business, Vizyenos vowed to return to claim her hand, but despite several letters to her until 1875, he failed to do so: Eleni resisted all offers of marriage until news of his insanity reached her from Athens around 1892. (2) In a letter to his brother Michaïlos, dated 20-24 September 1890, Vizyenos describes in some detail the brain disease affecting his spine, legs, and nervous system that was later to cause his insanity and death: it is likely that the disease was a syphilitic result of an injudicious sexual liaison during his studies in Germany (18751880 ). This experience, combined with his neglect of the faithful (Cypriot) Eleni...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3265
Print ISSN
0738-1727
Pages
pp. 351-355
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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