CHRISTIANE SOURVINOU-INWOOD ; Classical Scholar and Crime Writer
Davies, John K., The Independent (London, England)
Ever since the 1950s, classical scholarship has been enlivened and enlightened by the flow of bright and ambitious post-graduate students from Greece to Britain. Some have naturally returned to gain leading posts in Greek universities and museums, while others have stayed, to bestow upon British university departments their learning, their agendas and their sense of ownership of their own past. Christiane Sourvinou-Inwood personified this movement in a particularly complex way, creating in the process a body of publications which made her an idiosyncratic but very important contributor to our understanding of the intricate interrelationships between Greek myths, Greek religious rituals and Greek literature.
The daughter of an army officer and his schoolteacher wife, both Corfiotes, Christiane Sourvinou was born in Volos during the final ghastly stages of the war in Greece. A distinguished student career at the University of Athens earned her the only First Class degree awarded by the School of Philosophy in 1966 and opened the door to postgraduate work in Rome and to early publications on Linear B texts.
However, on emerging from a brief first marriage, she changed both her country of residence and her scholarly focus, moving first to Birmingham in 1969 to work with Franz Tritsch and then to Oxford, to become one of Professor Sir John Boardman's many Greek alumnae and to find in that city a sanctuary and a supportive network which had eluded her elsewhere. In consequence, though she applied for and filled posts elsewhere, not least as my own colleague in Liverpool University, the perpetual need to return home combined with the lack of a tenured Oxford position to limit her teaching: most regrettably, for the dedication and effort she put into it, the range and depth of her knowledge, and her ability to give timid students self-confidence, were exceptional. Effort went instead into writing - not just in Greek studies, for three detective novels have been published in Greece, and one ( Murder Most Classical) is about to appear in English (from Pegasus Press) under the name Christiana Elfwood.
The titles of her five monographs are eloquent: Theseus as Son and Stepson: a tentative illustration of the Greek mythological mentality (1979); Studies in Girls' Transitions: aspects of the Arkteia and age representation in Attic iconography (1988); "Reading" Greek Culture: texts and images, rituals and myths (1991); "Reading" Greek Death to the End of the Classical Period (1995); and Tragedy and Athenian Religion (2003), this last being the product of the recognition bestowed upon her as Carl Newell Jackson lecturer at Harvard in 1994.
They are not always easy reading. Partly that was superficial, for she could be prolix, to the despair of reviewers. Mainly, though, it stemmed from her determination to promulgate …
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Publication information: Article title: CHRISTIANE SOURVINOU-INWOOD ; Classical Scholar and Crime Writer. Contributors: Davies, John K. - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: June 2, 2007. Page number: Not available. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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