Topographies of Hellenism: Mapping the Homeland

By Artemis Leontis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4 Entopia: Modernist Transpositions of the Native

And so sinking and surging like the flight of an eagle through mid-air it dropped at last upon the tough old riddle of the modern Greek and his position in the world today.

-- Virginia Woolf, "A Dialogue upon Mount Pentelicus"

You never heard of Yannopoulos either, did you? Yannopoulos was greater than your Walt Whitman and all the American poets combined. . . . He became so intoxicated with the Greek language, the Greek philosophy, the Greek sky, the Greek mountains, the Greek sea, the Greek islands, the Greek vegetables, even, that he killed himself. . . . Are there any French writers or German writers or English writers who feel that way about their country, their race, their soil? . . . You can't know what a rock is until you've heard what Yannopoulos has written.

-- Henry Miller, The Colossus of Maroussi

The essence of cultural life is indivisible from the earth and the history of the people where it belongs. . . . One must define what that earth is and what its cultural meaning is, since this fundamentally predefines authentic art and essential thought and even history as a unity conceived from spirit. . . . Before any valuable influence comes an intelligible sense of the Hellenic earth and Hellenic history.

- Konstandínos Tsátsos, Πριν από το ξεκίνημα II (Before setting out II)

Literary and artistic responses to Hellenism during the first half of the twentieth century were not everywhere the same. Indeed, the first four decades of the century witnessed many contradictory reactions to the great tradition of the classics. One can point first to the artistic

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