“Hellas in Bloom: Creative Greece"
Takis Theodoropoulos talks about literature with Pericles Vallianos.
“One might say that this country was liberated in order to prove that it was incapable of self-government.”
Alexandros Papadiamantis, «Βαρδιάνος στα σπόρκα» (Guardian of the quarantined ships), 1893
Greece never ceased to create poetry throughout its centuries of existence. But the novel, a European art form as Kundera puts it, is the offspring of independence. For Greek novelists, there never was a “Greek language question.” Ragκavis, Papadiamantis, Roidis, Vizyinos—they all wrote in a katharevousa that brings to the fore the rich expressiveness and plasticity of the Greek language, disproving those who consider the form “artificial.” They imbued our national self-awareness with the oblique perspective of irony that characterizes the novel. In the 20th century, from the Generation of the ’30s to Kazantzakis, novelists constructed their own special perception of Hellenism, setting the tone for the other arts but also for social sensibilities. The Greek novel was never destined for mass consumption. One might say it pioneered the creation of Greek middle-class education by processing the two pillars of modern Greek consciousness: the search for the roots of Hellenism and its path towards integration in the Europe and the modern world.