Inter Network Conference, September 16-18, Malta 2010

Inter Network Conference, September 16-18, Malta 2010
My presentation"Teaching foreign language through Literature"

domenica 19 luglio 2009

A trip through Modern Greek literature.

Very often my foreign friends and students asked me about the Greek novel.
2001 was an important year for Greek literature, because Greece was an honored country at the 53rd International Book Fair in Frankfurt, the biggest book fair in the world.Here we can read the comprehensive article about modern Greek literature, written by Prof. R. Beaton for that particular occasion. Prof. Beaton is Koraes Professor of Modern Greek and Byzantine History, Language and Literature at King's College University of London,where he is the Head of the Department of Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies.

Land without novels?

Roderick Beaton

Occupation and civil war: the midwives of Greek fiction

The Greek novel has never benefited from the kind of attention that has led to the discovery, translation and promotion of, say, Latin-American, Caribbean, or post-colonial fiction. Sporadically, since at least 1881, individual Greek novels in translation have made it into publishers' catalogues here and in America. But with the single exception of Nikos Kazantzakis, who died in 1957, no Greek novelist has become a bestseller, provoked a craze, or spawned a cult; outside the world of specialist or university presses, hardly any Greek novel in translation has remained in print for long. Greece, as "honoured nation" at Frankfurt this year, is fielding an impressive line-up of forty-six writers, many of them novelists, including both veterans and relative newcomers. None can yet claim the level of international recognition accorded to Orhan Pamuk, Ismail Kadare, or Ivo Andric, to name only novelists from the same, relatively "exotic" region. And yet Greek writers, working in a tradition that differs significantly from that of the West, have produced novels during the last century that will stand comparison with the best produced anywhere.
Language, of course, is the obvious barrier. Two early Kazantzakis novels were written in French, two more first published in translation, when he was living abroad. But it is not only language. When Kazantzakis wrote Zorba the Greek and The Last Temptation, in the last decades of his life, he did so quite deliberately for an international readership. The passionate blending of the earthy with the spiritual is much more representative of the author himself than of his Greek background (Greeks don't recognize Zorba as particularly Greek); and Kazantzakis held himself studiously aloof from the tradition of Greek novels, which he once claimed never even to have read.
The whole tradition of storytelling, from which Kazantzakis deliberately distanced himself, speaks a different language, in some of the fundamental terms and concepts that it shares with its readers. The word "fiction" itself, until recently, had no generally accepted equivalent in Greek. Mythoplasia, the term which usually translates "fiction" today, is an academic neologism. The publishing category that includes the novel and the short story is pezographia, which means simply "prose-writing", defined, in Greek, by its medium, not by its content, and certainly not by its fictiveness. There is no Greek word for that Anglo-Saxon staple, "suspense".
Even the word for "novel" is not cognate with the European roman or novella. It was Adamandios Koraes, the classical scholar, ideologue of national independence, and linguistic reformer, who in 1804 coined the term mythistoria (later modified to become mythistorema): mythos to convey the idea of "fable" or "fiction", and istoria, ambiguous between the small world of "story" (his or hers) and the large one of "history" (ours or theirs).
At that time, though, there was no modern tradition of the novel in Greek.
Koraes's term was devised to define the ancient novels or "romances", written in Greek during the first four centuries ad. These elaborate tales of idealized love, tested through far-flung, implausible adventures, are the earliest known stories in the world that can properly be termed "novels". Curiously, there had never been a generic term in Greek for this kind of writing until Koraes's suggestion, made in the introduction to his edition of the fourth-century Aethiopica by Heliodorus.
But Koraes applied the same term to the work of his French contemporaries.
When, in 1832, Greece became an independent nation, the first modern writers of mythistoria grafted what they had plucked from Goethe, Foscolo, Lesage, Voltaire and others on to the trunk of those bygone Greek stories of idealized love. This was the case with the first Greek novel of modern times. Leander
(1833), by Panayotis Soutsos, is an epistolary tear-jerker in which the constancy of ideal love is tested by separation and travels, if not quite by the traditional adventures of the Hellenistic genre; but the story ends with suitably tragic obeisance to Die Leiden des jungen Werthers. As late as 1866, Pope Joan, by Emmanuel Roidis, one of the great comic novels of the century, pokes wicked fun, not just at religious and national sacra, but also at the conventions of romantic love and travel inherited from ancient precedent.
But if the modern Greek novel began life closer to idealized mythos than to real istoria, the latter term, particularly in its historical sense, soon began to assert itself. During the 1870s and 80s, social and economic changes created a broad-based readership for the first time. Partly in response to charges of immorality and irresponsibility (familiar elsewhere in Europe at the time), Greek writers of fiction now began to take a more sombre view of their task. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, Greek fiction was harnessed to the cause of communal self-knowledge (Hardy's Wessex or Zola's Paris transposed to the Aegean).
In the twentieth century, the traumas of history laid a heavy hand on the conscience of the novelist. Life in the Tomb (1924), by Stratis Myrivilis (now published by Quartet), is a searing account of trench warfare on the Macedonian Front during the First World War. Ever since, an influential trend of Greek writing has sought to bear witness to collectively experienced events. The legacy of the Greek civil war extended this tradition to the end of the century. That war began in the mountains of occupied Greece in 1943, and lasted intermittently until 1949. But beneath the surface, it continued long after, especially during the dictatorship of the Colonels, from 1967 to 1974. Only in
1981 did Greece's first socialist government allow the suppressed memories of the defeated Left back into official public consciousness.
Bearing witness to history, during that time, was more than a literary trend; until 1981, official history was limited to a single version of what had happened in Greece during the 1940s. Only in literature could alternative versions of a contested past be represented. In public discussions, held in the early 1970s against a background of political oppression, first-rate writers of what in English would be called "fiction" declared their principled refusal to "invent".
All this is part of the legacy inherited by Greek writers since the 1960s. The best Greek novels of the last half-century include The Third Wedding by Kostas Taktsis (1962), a raucous reliving of recent Greek history through the antiphonal voices of two middle-class Athenian women; Mission Box by Aris Alexandrou (1974), which obsessively dissects the language and the mentality of the Communist side in the civil war with all the intellectual rigour of Proust or Kafka; and The Great Square (translated as Crossroads) by Nikos Bakolas
(1987), whose gentle, undulating streams of consciousness weave together a rich tapestry of lives and passions centred on the northern Greek city of Thessaloniki, before and during the Second World War. Irrevocably shaped by the experience of the German Occupation and civil war, these writers are among the undoubted postwar greats, and have been hugely influential.
Since the end of the dictatorship in 1974, and particularly during the 1980s, there has been a remarkable "explosion" of fiction, much of it of high quality, marked by a new sophistication and versatility. The 1980s also saw the development, in Greece, of a true mass market in fiction, as fiction began to outstrip poetry, both in volume and prestige. In Greece, as elsewhere, the novel is now the dominant genre; only in the past few years have such phenomena as literary agents and published bestseller lists begun to become part of the culture.
Many of the most striking and original voices in Greek fiction since the 1980s have been those of women. Eugenia Fakinou established her reputation with The Seventh Garment (1983), a brilliantly concise magic-realist montage of Greek history, myth, atmospheric evocation of landscape and crazy folklore. Parallels can be found in South American fiction, in Milan Kundera and Salman Rushdie, but all Fakinou's books are vividly anchored to her own place and time. Rhea Galanaki, also highly thought of as a poet, turned to fiction at the end of the 1980s; in three novels published since, she has challenged the way in which the history of her country has been constructed since the nineteenth century, provoking both comparison, and public dialogue, with Orhan Pamuk.
And at Twilight They Return, by Ziranna Zatelli (1993), is an epic magic-realist saga of life in northern Greece, spanning four generations across the turn of the previous century. Highly successful at home, this huge novel has been acclaimed in German, Dutch and Italian translation, and is about to come out with Seuil in Paris. Why it has not been taken up in this country is something of a mystery. It can stand the inevitable comparisons with Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende.
Among male writers, Thanasis Valtinos has specialized in a collage of real data and real, or real-seeming, testimonies. Valtinos in this way extends, and at the same time explodes, the convention of eye-witness authenticity which has figured so largely in the "fiction" of the last century. Orthokosta (1994) takes its title from the name of a monastery in the southern Peloponnese, which was the scene of internecine atrocities in 1944. The book consists of a fragmentary set of witness statements and interviews, from which the reader is enticed and provoked to try to make out what "really" happened. Perhaps the most provocative thing about this book is its subtitle: mythistorema. In this "novel", we participate in the making of history out of the raw tissue of individual stories.
The only contemporary Greek writer to have won a commitment from a UK publisher is Yoryis Yatromanolakis, four of whose six books (not all of them can be classed as fiction) are now in print from Dedalus. Yatromanolakis is a master of sophisticated pastiche, that draws on a deep knowledge of the ancient and modern past of his country. History of a Vendetta (1982) and A Report of a Murder (1993), both set in the author's native Crete, direct a meticulous and unflinching gaze on the nature and consequences of the act of taking a life.
These densely-wrought narratives are "murder" stories in the same way that Oedipus the King or Crime and Punishment are.The work of these and other Greek writers is on show at Frankfurt this week, co-ordinated by the National Book Centre of Greece. The traditions on which these Greek novelists draw is at once older, and more diverse, than the familiar European one, dominated by the eighteenth- century "rise of the novel". They open up a rich imaginative world, one that still largely awaits discovery in the West.

Article from From Times Online
October 12, 2001 By Roderick Beaton.

mercoledì 8 luglio 2009


EΛΛAΔA Hμερομηνία δημοσίευσης: 26-06-09
Διαπολιτιστική εκπαίδευση κατά ρατσισμού

Της Μαριας Δεληθαναση

Παραγωγή διδακτικού υλικού για την ευαισθητοποίηση καθηγητών και μαθητών στα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα, σε Πορτογαλία, Ισπανία, Δανία, Βρετανία. Στήριξη μαθητών πορτογαλικής καταγωγής σε πανεπιστήμιο του Αμβούργου. Τεχνικές συνεργατικής μάθησης (οι πιο «δυνατοί» μαθητές βοηθούσαν τους πιο αδύναμους) σε ιαπωνικό πανεπιστήμιο. Αυτές είναι κάποιες από τις καλές πρακτικές που παρουσιάσθηκαν στο διεθνές συνέδριο Διαπολιτισμικής Εκπαίδευσης, υπό την αιγίδα της Ουνέσκο, που ολοκληρώνεται σήμερα στην Αθήνα. Συνδιοργανωτές του συνεδρίου, η Διεθνής Ενωση Διαπολιτισμικής Εκπαίδευσης, το Ινστιτούτο Μεταναστευτικής Πολιτικής, η Διεθνής Ενωση για τη Μελέτη της Συνεργασίας στην Εκπαίδευση και το Παιδαγωγικό Τμήμα Νηπιαγωγών του Πανεπιστημίου Δ. Μακεδονίας. Ευχάριστη έκπληξη στις καλές πρακτικές, η ελληνική συμμετοχή (μεταξύ έξι κρατών) στο πρόγραμμα «Red-Co»: Ο προβληματισμός της παιδιών δευτεροβάθμιας εκπαίδευσης για τη θρησκευτική διαφορετικότητα απέδειξε ότι οι αντιλήψεις για τις θρησκείες είναι ανεξάρτητες από την εθνικότητα. Τα παιδιά «αιτούν» τα βιβλία των Θρησκευτικών να ανταποκρίνονται στους προβληματισμούς τους.

«Είναι ανάγκη και προτεραιότητα»

Το συμπέρασμα είναι ιδιαίτερα αισιόδοξο, σημειώνει στην «Κ» η πρόεδρος του συνεδρίου και καθηγήτρια του πανεπιστημίου Δ. Μακεδονίας κ. Νεκταρία Παλαιολόγου. «Το σχολείο πρέπει να στοχεύει στη δημιουργία ενός σύγχρονου πολίτη με ανοικτή σκέψη, χωρίς φόρο και προκατάληψη για το διαφορετικό. Είναι ανάγκη και προτεραιότητα, με δεδομένη τη σημερινή κρίση, να δημιουργήσουμε ένα σχολείο που επικεντρώνεται στα ανθρώπινα δικαιώματα και στην καταπολέμηση του ρατσισμού» κατέληξε η κ. Παλαιολόγου. Από την πλευρά του ο πρόεδρος του ΙΜΕΠΟ, κ. Αλέξανδρος Ζαβός, τόνισε ότι προκειμένου να αποφύγουμε τη δημιουργία νησίδων από διαφορετικές χώρες που δεν μπορούν να συμβιώσουν, πρέπει να αναπτύξουμε τον διαπολιτισμικό διάλογο που θα επιτρέψει την ομαλή συμβίωση στον ελληνικό χώρο. «Οχημα» γι’ αυτό, η διαπολιτισμική εκπαίδευση.
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