Πρόσφατα άρθρα

Hyperion or the hermit in Greece

Concept, dramaturgy and performance by Dimitra Kreps

Hyperion or the hermit in Greece

ΓΙΑΝΝΗΣ ΖΗΚΟΥΔΗΣ: Άξιον Εστί

Σκοπός της εργασίας αυτής είναι η προσέγγιση του Άξιον Εστί με ερευνητικό εργαλείο το ηρωοκεντρικό μοντέλο αφηγηματικής ανάλυσης που ανέδειξε η μακρά παράδοση συστηματικής ανάλυσης λογοτεχνικών έργων η οποία ξεκίνησε με τη μελέτη της δομής των ρωσικών παραμυθιών από τους Ρώσους φορμαλιστές στις αρχές του 20ου αιώνα και πέρασε αργότερα στους στρουκτουραλιστές και σημειολόγους θεωρητικούς της λογοτεχνίας.

ΓΙΑΝΝΗΣ ΖΗΚΟΥΔΗΣ: Άξιον Εστί

Μεταπτυχιακό εξ αποστάσεως πρόγραμμα για τη Διδασκαλία της Ελληνικής ως Δεύτερης/Ξένης Γλώσσας (Παν. Λευκωσίας - ΚΕΓ)

Το Πανεπιστήμιο Λευκωσίας σε συνεργασία με το Κέντρο Ελληνικής Γλώσσας διοργανώνει μεταπτυχιακό πρόγραμμα "Διδασκαλία της Ελληνικής ως Δεύτερης/Ξένης Γλώσσας (MA, 3 εξάμηνα) - Εξ Αποστάσεως".

Μεταπτυχιακό εξ αποστάσεως πρόγραμμα για τη Διδασκαλία της Ελληνικής ως Δεύτερης/Ξένης Γλώσσας (Παν. Λευκωσίας - ΚΕΓ)

Discuss the portrayal and effects of loss in the poetry of Cavafy

My Mother's Sin and Other Stories A series of lectures on Modern Greek literature taught by Dr Dimitra Tzanidaki-Kreps This is a first class essay of one of my students, Jenny Wight, who took my course this year writing beautifully on the effects of loss in Cavafy's poetry.

Discuss the portrayal and effects of loss in the poetry of Cavafy

Discuss the portrayal and effects of loss in the poetry of Cavafy

My Mother's Sin and Other Stories A series of lectures on Modern Greek literature taught by Dr Dimitra Tzanidaki-Kreps This is a first class essay of one of my students, Jenny Wight, who took my course this year writing beautifully on the effects of loss in Cavafy's poetry.

Discuss the portrayal and effects of loss in the poetry of Cavafy

BIRZEIT UNIVERSITY - Παλαιστίνη

Ευαγγελία Καφφέ-Αλαούνε BIRZEIT UNIVERSITY Αγγλόφωνο Πανεπιστήμιο όπου διδάσκονται τα ν.ε

BIRZEIT UNIVERSITY - Παλαιστίνη

Η ΔΕΠΠΣ και η ελληνόγλωσση εκπαίδευση εξωτερικού

Αξιολόγηση της ελληνόγλωσσης τριτοβάθμιας εκπαίδευσης εξωτερικού στην Ελλάδα

Η ΔΕΠΠΣ και η ελληνόγλωσση εκπαίδευση εξωτερικού

ἐξ ἐρίων δὴ καὶ κλωστήρων καὶ ἀτράκτων

This essay examines that metaphor in the context of the political and war situation at the time Lysistrata was first performed. It considers traditional gender roles in the fifth-century Greek polis and Lysistrata’s inversion of those roles in her weaving analogy. Aristophanes’ comedic purpose in the weaving speech, in Lysistrata as a whole, and more generally across his corpus is examined. In addition, some observations are made about the sound pattern of Lysistrata’s speech and, in a personal argument, a speculative suggestion is advanced that the audience might have associated her cadences with the familiar rhythms of a domestic weaving loom.

ἐξ ἐρίων δὴ καὶ κλωστήρων καὶ ἀτράκτων

Poetics and Histories: To What Extent Did C. P. Cavafy Alter Historical Narratives, and for What Artistic Purposes?

stuident Name: Joseph Watson Module Lecturer: Dr Dimitra Tzanidaki-Kreps Date of Submission: 11/01/2016

Poetics and Histories: To What Extent Did C. P. Cavafy Alter Historical Narratives, and for What Artistic Purposes?

Examine the role of self-deception in the historical poems of Cavafy

This is a heartfelt yet rigorous and intelligent essay submitted by Sophie Prewett for the course I teach to 3rd year undergraduate Classics students at the University of Reading where I have been teaching for the last thirteen years. My course bears the title 'My Mother's sin and other stories' aiming at introducing some major authors and works as well as trends in Modern Greek Poetry and Fiction from the late 19th century to the late 20th century in connection with both the history, sociocultural context and wider literary developments of their period and illustrating attitudes to the ancient past in the work of some selected poets and novelists. All texts are taught from English translations. My students take this course as optional and for the majority a whole new world of hidden Modern Greek treasures is unveiled. Many have called the experience of my course as 'a breath of fresh air' which i consider an ultimate credit...

Examine the role of self-deception in the historical poems of Cavafy

Introduction to Modern Greek Literature (Ritsos)

tzanidaki writes, "Ergasia 2etous

Lecturer: Dr Dimitra Tzanidaki-Kreps
University of Reading, Department of Classics
"

22 Απριλίου 2008

Discuss the form of Dramatic Monologue as perfected by Ritsos’ poetry.

By Laura Cox, Classics, 2nd year student

The dramatic monologues belonging to Ritsos’ The Fourth Dimension fall into two categories: the mythical and the modern. Ritsos did not arrange them for publication in chronological order, but such that the monologues set in modern time flank those set primarily in mythical time. Thus the collection begins with The Window and ends with When the Stranger Comes--both of which have modern settings. The mythical monologues are arranged in chronological order according to the myths of the House of Atreus. The arrangement allows each player in the story to have their say in turn as the myth unfolds. In total there are sixteen monologues, composed between the years 1956 and 1972.
Ina Beth Sessions, in an article from 1947, classified the dramatic monologue in terms of genre theory. She claimed the perfect monologue to have seven elements: speaker, audience, occasion, revelation of character, interplay between speaker and audience, dramatic action, and action which takes place in the present. Nearly all of the pieces in The Fourth Dimension exhibit these elements. We are always provided with a speaker, an audience and an occasion, usually in the prologues provided by an anonymous narrator. Interaction between audience and speaker is present to varying degrees—in Helen and Phaedra the audience is seemingly trapped, in Ajax more passive—but is always discernable. Ritsos’ use of anachronism places even the mythological monologues partially in the modern era, and the dramatic action always unfolds during the course of the monologue. Revelation of character, however, is more problematic, for it is not merely character that Ritsos’ speakers unveil.
Often the mythical subjects he selected were those who had no voice in their myths—or at least insufficient opportunity to state their own perspective, like Helen and Chrysothemis. These people figured marginally in classical tragedy, or had no speaking parts. There are exceptions: Phaedra, Agamemnon, Ajax, and Orestes, but their presence places the lesser heard voice on equal ground with themselves. Ritsos was not breaking new ground in his choice of subjects; Cavafy and Seferis also favoured the ‘losers’ or those who history had deemed insignificant or marginal.
Similarly, he was not breaking new ground with his use of a prologue in the form of stage directions, or in his choice of dramatic monologue. Such prologues go back to Euripides and continue on through New Comedy. Monologues are found in Attic tragedy, and eventually, during the Second Sophistic, monologic recitation became the dominant form of dramatic performance for asserting class and national identity against the Roman Empire. However, the importance of this similarity is merely one of form and must not be carried too far, because text is not performance. Unlike the relationship between performer(s) and audience, the reader is not influencing the text during the act of reading, but can only react to the static text itself. The point is: forms of expression not heavily reliant upon dialogue had been developed and celebrated prior to Modern Greek literature.
There is never just a single voice present in the monologues, but a multitude. There is the constant presence of the audience, the Other, who is mentioned often enough to create a constant tension—sometimes erotic, sometimes desperate. There is also the voice who gives the setting and stage directions at the beginning and end of most of the poems. There is the voice of Ritsos himself in the political ideology expressed in the monologues. The monologues are dialogic in the Bakhtian sense, but the voices are interchangeable; the voice of Ritsos is sometimes found in the prologue and in both speaker and audience. In Moonlight Sonata, for example, the voice of Ritsos can be found in the narrator who is seemingly omniscient, but ultimately does not know what became of the woman who speaks the monologue; in the audience, a young man, whose Leftist political views are betrayed by comments like “the decline of an era”; in the woman of ‘a certain age’ who speaks her confession and of her need to see:
the city with its calloused hands, the city of daily work,
the city that swears by bread and by its fist,
the city that bears all of us on its back…

Ritsos can be located within both the Leftist Marxist sentiments expressed in the poem, and in the compassion conveyed for the woman who represents the decaying bourgeoisie. Roderick Beaton speaks of ‘…a peculiar tension which gives to much of Ritsos’ poetry its vitality…’ which ‘derives from the interplay between nostalgic respect for the old order, in which his own art of poetry is inescapably rooted, and a commitment to the vision of a revolutionary future.’ However, the mutability of voice in Ritsos’ dramatic monologues allows his work to transcend the category of propaganda.
The poems are also not set exclusively in the mythical past—or rather mythical time for Ritsos is not in the distant past, but is now and always, always repeating. He employs many concrete images, yet refuses to fix time or even identity. Very few names are used in the monologues themselves, and the reader assumes that it is Helen who is speaking in the Helen, because that is the title of the monologue. Nowhere does the speaker actually identify herself as Helen; the reader must affirm her initial assumption on the basis of references to Paris, Castor and Polydeuces. Similarly, Persephone is called ‘The Traveller’, Electra ‘the Other Woman’, and even voices belonging to the modern monologues are left unidentified. What is developed is more archetype than character, which undermines the traditional function of a dramatic monologue. Yet the dramatic element is not lost, for it is the connected symbols (jewellery, etc), sounds (cicadas, birds, etc) and settings (the marble staircase, under the mountain) that identify the speakers as effectively as the handful of proper names Ritsos does provide.
Despite their conformity to Sessions’ definition, it is slightly misleading to refer to the poems as monologues, because they go far beyond the ‘definition’ of that genre as a collection. If read independently, they are dramatic monologues—with one speaker and stage directions (usually)—but as a collection they are placed in dialogue with one another. They are doubly dialogic, for the multiplicity of voices within each monologue is mirrored in the relationship between dialogues. Themes and symbols are repeated, like the mirror, the photograph in its frame, the coffin, and the themes of aging and decay. This is to be expected inasmuch as Ritsos revealed archetypes, but the connection is more specific than that. For example: Phaedra is connected to Helen, and Ismene is an answer to Persephone. Peter Green has likened them to Plato’s dialogues.
In each of his prologues, we are given a description of what sounds (if any) are audible before and after the monologue is delivered. This serves to preserve the dramatic element of music, and complements the format of the prologues. Moreover, there is within the monologues a musicality that at times mimics a symphony (as in Moonlight Sonata) or traditional Greek folk songs. Ritsos used imagery specifically from Paraloges, laments and lullabies, like an emphasis on moonlight, bird song and contrasts generally. These songs of the life-cycle, of change and of domestic affairs are very much in keeping with the themes of his poems.
There is a tension between interior and exterior space. The monologues are primarily set indoors, usually in a decaying structure. Nature and the outside world are seen as sinister and threatening in the present time, though they are often represented as sensuous and a source of joy in the memories of the speakers. The poems deal extensively with memories concerning the family and household, and only marginally with social upheavals. But the players present in the monologues are the products of their social climate, so there is an implicit social element. Ritsos makes no secret of differences in power and status between speaker and audience, and often underscores tense relations between servants and masters, such as in Helen:
The slave girls hate me. I hear them at night, opening drawers,
helping themselves to lacework, jewellery, gold bars—who knows
if they’ve left me even one good dress for a special occasion
or a single pair of shoes? They stole my keys, too,
from under my pillow—I didn’t stir, pretended to be asleep—
they’d have got them some other way in the end. At least I’d rather they
didn’t know I know.

This intense focus and the tragic quality of the characters strongly points to the monologues as narratives of change; the household centred and communal identity must be abandoned for the new collective identity of the modern state, and the ideals of the Left which Ritsos supported. Death is the consequence of an inability to metamorphose. This is seen in the final lines of Under the Shadow of the Mountain; as the Other woman who is the speaker of that monologue attempts to chase her departing Nurse, she trips and falls down dead by the door. Again, the form of the monologue allows Ritsos to critique society subtly.
Perhaps this is an allusion to the oikos and demos of Classical Greece, which Ritsos may have wished to employ in order to indicate a change in perspective from the old bourgeoisie values and standards of living towards his own Marxist ideals and the urban reality? The dramatic monologue is both a personal and political literary form, and Ritsos used it as a vehicle for both the personal and political. Indeed, he could be seen as doing his duty as a writer of the Left by writing public and political novels that fulfil the social responsibility, according to Stratis Tsirkas, to “reflect those feelings of the people he is writing for,” and that ‘synthesise and transcend the opposition between individual and society’. Because individualism was seen as ‘antihumanist’ Ritsos’ speakers are universal, and the focus is always on breaking free from the past in order to move towards an ideal future where the social collective is more important. Neither the novel, which has been linked with the West and individualism, nor the diary, which is too individualist and ineffective would have sufficed.
Ritsos’ treatment of his subjects is closer to Senecan tragedy and Second Sophistic recitation than anything Attic, though Ritsos is more sympathetic towards his subjects than Seneca. The comparison is not so shocking in light of the similarities between the environments both authors were writing in; both lived in violent times and both were keen to convey a political message in their writings. Furthermore, Ritsos was writing in a climate where individualism and nationalism were on the rise; this connects him to the time of the Second Sophistic and of Seneca. It is no accident that with the rise of Imperial Rome and the concentration of power in one body, history became biography. But Ritsos’ monologues are not individualist, and the ambiguity and anachronism subvert the individualism associated with that genre.
Ritsos is very concerned with Eros and Thanatos, both Freudian terms and dominant themes of Romantic literature. He employs his dramatic monologues spoken through a collective voice to react against the individualist Romantic trend that marked out early Modern Greek literature. The very form is significant—it lends irony to the corpus of work. Above all it is the form of poetry closest to psychoanalysis; the speaker unleashes an often irrational stream of symbols to a listener who, though responsive, is not heard by us. This keeps our focus fixed on the words and, consequently, on the symbols emitting from the speaker.
Another, more personal, function of the collection is to attempt to tap into the unconscious. This accounts for the arrangement of the monologues and the use of particular symbols, such as the shadow and the sea/water, and the apparent surrealist influence. The collection begins with The Window, a monologue that both contains most of the symbols to be encountered in the poems to follow, but also makes it very clear that it is the unconscious we are about to explore. ‘Did you ever look through a glass underwater?’ Ritsos asks. The question calls back to previous lines:
Truly, I sometimes think that only being torn to pieces
can keep us whole—it is enough that we know it.
And how can we not know it, since it is our knowledge
that tears us apart and reunites us with that which we have denied.

What will follow is clearly going to be a dismantling of the psyche; an underwater adventure into the depths of the unconscious. That this journey is personal also for Ritsos is clear:
…that each of us may be two people
with muffled faces, and both of them vindictive,
At loggerheads with each other…

The influence of psychoanalysis shines through in what he reveals as dominant characteristics of the speakers. In Phaedra, the shadows cast across the furniture reveal her inner animal nature:
my shadow’s constant changes—they’re really more like beasts—
a lion with its claws rips up the scarlet coverlet,
a tigress gnaws the velvet on the sofa, dolphin
leaps into the mirror with a harpoon in its back, a doe
trails the curtains from its horns like a bridal gown

The Shadow is a Jungian concept—not Freudian—but Ritsos was obviously very taken by its power to express the duality that exists in all of us, the saint and sinner, and the duality rife in Greece and in his own person. Like the Surrealists, the monologues use this symbolism to provoke a psychological response on the part of the reader; a sort of reverse psychoanalysis whereby the words of another prompt profound revelations about ourselves, and about human life itself.
What gives Ritsos’ work its power is that it is archetype and not character he develops. This is necessary for in When the Stranger Comes:
When we have remembered, he said,
The moment of that we remember has never passed.

And:
All move more or less in a circle, they return
Onto a higher level, we meet them again.

Character is static and confined by time; an archetype recurs and is in each one of us either by conscious or unconscious choice. This explains Ritsos’ use of masks in the monologues. It is possible for the audience to identify with any of the voices present in the poems, much like trying on—or hiding behind—a mask. This is how the reverse psychoanalysis operates within the poems.
The dramatic monologue enjoys a new intensity in Ritsos’ The Fourth Dimension. The most individual and intimate of forms, Ritsos subverts its association with individual character and transcends the traditional boundaries by providing a space where his voice may mingle with the voices of his time and near history, and with our own voices and fragmented selves. He achieves both political and personal goals, because for him the journey into the unconscious brings rejuvenation and clarity of thought: ‘there is nothing further that can force down your life or your eyes.’ In this state of clarity, it is possible for the reader to share his ideals, or at least to change; to depart from the old picture frames and ‘see a bit of the city’.
Bibliography

Beaton, Roderick. An Introduction to Modern Greek Literature (Oxford 2004)

Byron, Glennis. Dramatic Monologue (London 2003)

Goldhill, Simon. Reading Greek Tragedy (Cambridge 1999)

Green, Peter (1993) ‘Introduction’, in Yannis Ritsos The Fourth Dimension.
Princeton, ix-xviii

Mackridge, Peter (1988) ‘Testimony and Fiction in Greek Narrative Prose 1944-1967’
in Roderick Beaton (ed), The Greek Novel AD1- 1985. Beckenham, 90-102

Ritsos, Yannis. The Fourth Dimension, transl. by Peter Green and Beverly Bardsley
(Princeton 1993)

Tziovas, Dimitris. The Other Self: Selfhood and Society in Modern Greek Fiction
(Oxford 2003)

Vayenas, Nasos (1988) ‘Seferis’ Six Nights on the Acropolis: The Diary as Novel’
in Roderick Beaton (ed), The Greek Novel AD1- 1985. Beckenham, 54-62

Watts, Niki. The Greek Folk Songs (Bristol 1988)

Whitmarsh, Tim. The Second Sophistic (Oxford 2005)

© 2012 Κέντρο Ελληνικής Γλώσσας - Πύλη για την Ελληνική Γλώσσα